Grocery union takes up case of fired Sprouts employee Ian Rey

Another rally planned for Friday

SAN DIEGO - The local grocery union has agreed to represent a disabled, fired, long-time employee of Sprouts Farmers Market in Point Loma, as another rally was planned for Friday evening.

10News confirmed United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 has agreed to represent Ian Rey.  

Sprouts is a non-union company, but Local 135 Spokesman Mickey Kasparian said the group can help represent Rey in the grievance process with various local and state agencies.

"We're going to represent him in his fight to get his job back. This is what a union does; we stand behind workers. He was terminated for making an honest mistake," said Kasparian.

"It will be helpful, it will be great," said Rey, in reaction to the union chief's backing.

Rey was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He has learning disabilities, but had held a job at the grocery store for 14 years.

Rey said he was fired for taking a black jacket he thought was his from the break room and unknowingly wore it to work the next day.

For the past two days, Linda Palmer has been passing out fliers in support of Rey.

She doesn't know him well, but said, "I'm just really angry about it. I care for him; he always had happy words for me."

A Facebook page backing Rey has more than 500 likes, and even San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick ripped Sprouts on Twitter.

In a statement, Sprouts said, "There is more to the story than is being reported … however, we do not publicly comment on personnel issues."

"Have you been in trouble before?" asked 10News reporter Michael Chen.

"No," responded Rey.

"He's always gotten really good marks on reviews. This is really surprising to us. We talked to the company who placed him. He has a job coach who checked in with Sprouts to see how he was doing. We have no idea what they're talking about. Alluding to something is just as hurtful as listing something," said Rey's sister, Sunny.

She told 10News her brother just wants his job back. If he doesn't get it, Kasparian vows to help him get another job. The union chief is already talking to several grocers.

"At least one of the companies is talking locally about what they can do to hire him," Kasparian said.

Supporters told 10News they will be boycotting Sprouts until Rey gets his job back.

An informal rally Wednesday brought out about a dozen customers and on Tuesday people also showed up at the store with signs following an explosion of support for Rey on social media.


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