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Thursday Forum: More Support for Fired Co-op Employees

Kenyon Probably Nailed It

To the Editor:

I disagree with Donald Kreis, who wrote to the Forum that Jim Kenyon made an unfair attack in his column in which he described how the Co-op fired two employees without giving them reason, and that he suspected they were fired because of their interest in collective bargaining and meeting with a union representative.

Contrary to Mr. Kreis, I think Kenyon probably hit the nail right on the head. It may be legal to fire someone in New Hampshire without giving cause; however, as noted by Mr. Kreis, it is against federal labor laws to retaliate against employees for seeking to unionize. I think that Dan King and John Boutin should file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and give the Co-op management an opportunity to explain to the NLRB why two employees, each with more than 10 years experience, were fired and not given reasons.

Bernard Trumpower

Norwich

Corporate Wolf Bares Its Teeth

To the Editor:

Jim Kenyon is at it again! Wonderful. We all stand in need of this invaluable Upper Valley gadfly, whether or not we always agree with his choice of targets. This time his rant — about the dire situation at the Co-op — is no tempest in a teapot (“Cheese and Wine Firing Party,” June 29). Apparently, the stakes are much higher than the petty political feuds in Norwich.

The termination of the chief dispensers of wine and cheese — arguably the two most important departments in the Lebanon store — for allegedly daring to inquire about unionizing the employees strikes me as both high-handed and outrageous. For more than a decade, I have been a loyal Co-op customer who always enjoyed chatting up the friendly and helpful staff. Now these firings reveal the sharp teeth of the corporate wolf that lies just beneath the sheepskin fleece of the Co-op’s hierarchs. Far from being a knee-jerk liberal supporter of trade unions, I opposed attempts to unionize the University of California at Berkeley faculty when teaching there in the turbulent 1960s.

The abrupt dismissal of two senior Co-op employees appalls me because they have every right to solicit the views of their co-workers on such a crucial issue. Frankly, the corporate nature of the Co-op’s insensitive management has long worried me as I suspect that some employees have been afraid to reveal even a hint of job dissatisfaction. If these firings are allowed to stand, then we can look forward to even more intimidation of the rank and file as well as the possibility of litigation for which we customers will eventually pay through higher food prices.

The autocratic reprisal against John Boutin and Dan King for daring to step out of line makes me wonder if the hierarchs of Northwestern University will not emulate the Co-op’s management and fire all the football players who favor unionizing. In any event — and with much regret — I am planning to spend more time and money at Shaw’s and Hannaford’s. More’s the pity.

L. Perry Curtis

North Pomfret