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Fred Meyer, QFC workers can wear Black Lives Matter buttons, judge says

caption: A QFC in Seattle's Lower Queen Anne neighborhood.
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A QFC in Seattle's Lower Queen Anne neighborhood.

A union that represents more than 50,000 grocery store, retail, and other workers celebrated a victory Friday after a judge said they could wear their union-sponsored Black Lives Matter buttons at work.

UFCW 3000 says an administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board has ruled in favor of a group of Fred Meyer and QFC workers who were banned from wearing Black Lives Matter buttons, and other items like certain masks, to work.

“It feels good to win again!” said Sam Dancy, a front end Supervisor at the Westwood Village QFC in West Seattle. Dancy has worked for QFC for more than 30 years.

“When we as workers speak out through these buttons and collectively say Black Lives Matter and then QFC and Fred Meyer said to take the buttons off, that was insulting and a violation of the law," Dancy said. "We knew all along we had the right to call out social and racial injustice in the workplace and in our neighborhoods and this judge’s decision reiterates that right.”

The union provided the buttons to workers in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, and amid the protests that followed. The stores did not favor its employees wearing the buttons, which led to the union challenging the policy. This is the second ruling in the union's favor, following a previous decision in 2021.

The union says the judge agreed with their argument that their right to wear the items was protected under federal labor laws because racism is a workplace issue. The union argued that the employees in this case acted to advance their interest to an “affirmatively anti-racist, pro-civil rights, and pro-justice workplace.”

The judge’s decision further struck down employers’ broad dress codes. No word yet if the stores will appeal this decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

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