LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A federal complaint was issued against a Paramount-based supermarket chain for allegedly restraining employees from advocating for union representation, National Labor Relations Board officials announced Wednesday.

The complaint against the El Super chain accuses the company of “interfering with, restraining and coercing” its employees from working toward a contract with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 – including the suspension and termination of cashier/shop steward Fermin Rodriguez.

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The NLRB also accused the company of refusing the bargain with the union.

“This is a good step forward toward getting this company back to the table to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for our El Super members,” said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770.

“This is an extraordinary decision by the U.S. government in response to our union’s efforts to stop these illegal abuses,” he said. “We welcome the federal government’s efforts to prosecute El Super for its coercive and threatening conduct intended to silence our members, and for the full reinstatement of Fermin Rodriguez, whom the company fired illegally.”

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The UFCW represents about 600 El Super workers at seven stores in the Southland. The chain’s employees have been working without a contract since September 2013, according to the union.

El Super responded Thursday saying the incident was merely an allegation, there has been no findings of a violation and the complaint will be heard before an administrative law judge for fact finding purposes rather than government prosecution.

“The UFCW’s claims are grossly inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible. The filing of unfair labor practices is common practice – by both sides – in a labor dispute. We find it telling that the UFCW has omitted the fact that a similar complaint has been issued by the government against the union (see here), and is currently pending hearing. The UFCW has twisted the facts to sensationalize what is nothing more than procedural due process,” the company said in a statement.

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