November, 2006

COAST-TO-COAST GROCERY WORKERS STICK TOGETHER FOR CAREER JOBS WITH HEALTH CARE

(Washington, DC)—Across the country, grocery workers want career jobs with affordable health care and are standing together to achieve their goal.  Supermarket workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) have launched a national store-to-store movement of workers supporting each other through in-store actions, a website and other support-building activities.

UFCW members at supermarkets across the country will wear stickers to work on November 21-26th, to demonstrate unity in showing their appreciation for the loyalty of the customers and communities that they serve.

The stickers are part of a larger, nationwide effort to bargain for better jobs for grocery workers. Nearly half a million UFCW grocery workers’ contracts are up for negotiation over the next 18 months, including 70,000 UFCW members in Southern California and in stores across the country and in Canada.  The website, www.groceryworkersunited.com offers workers and supporters downloads of store flyers, videos, photos and news from bargaining tables across the country.

Last month, grocery workers all along the West Coast wore stickers expressing their need for affordable, quality health care.  Now, in-store action is spreading across the entire nation as grocery workers wear this month’s sticker, which reads: “Serving Customers, Serving the Community.”

“The customers have been very supportive of the stickers,” adds UFCW Local 21 member and Safeway employee Vee Maksirisombat of Seattle, Washington. “It lets them know that we support our communities.”

“We’re all working for the same things: better benefits, better wages and job security.  If we all work together, with the support of the community, to fight for the things we need, we’ll be stronger when we bargain,” said Leroy Gardner, UFCW Local 400 member and an employee at Giant Foods in Bethesda, Maryland.

PETITION DRIVE DEMANDS PROTECTIONS FOR BROOKS AND ECKERD DRUGSTORE CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES

An intensive one hundred city and town petition drive is launching today aimed at customers and workers affected by the proposed purchase of Brooks and Eckerd drugstores by Rite Aid.  The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and UNITE HERE are concerned that the purchase will result in store closings that could negatively impact people who rely on these drugstores for employment and for access to prescription medication.

Leafleting and petitioning activity will take place Wednesday, November 15, 2006 in front of Brooks and Eckerds drugstores located in your community.  Call media contacts for locations of activities.

“We can’t lose sight of the fact that transactions like this have an immediate impact on people’s lives.  The goal of the petition is not to block or permit Rite Aid from buying other drugstores.  But the proposed transaction is likely to have an impact on customers, and that impact should be reviewed by state-based officials to make sure that retirees, the disabled, and other vulnerable drugstore customers and workers are not harmed by this transaction,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President.

“We believe Brooks and Eckerd’s customers and employees are concerned about their stores being bought.  This petition gives them an opportunity to voice that concern. They are constituencies that we hope the Attorneys General will take steps to protect from the potential impact of store closings or sales,” said Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE HERE.

The transaction is already being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, the federal agency responsible for reviewing the antitrust impact of business combinations in the retail drugstore sector.  The petition [attached] calls on the state Attorneys General to open their own investigations to add a more local level of review to the Rite Aid transaction.

State Attorney Generals’ offices often conduct parallel antitrust investigations to their federal counterparts.  In 1996, four states announced their opposition to a larger transaction that Rite Aid had proposed on antitrust grounds, effectively blocking the purchase.

Rite Aid announced on August 24, 2006 its intention to purchase over 1,800 Eckerd and Brooks drugstores for $3.4 billion from the Jean Coutu Group, Inc., a Canadian corporation.  The transaction as proposed would make Rite Aid the dominant drugstore chain in many markets throughout the eastern United States.

Statement by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Joe Hansen on Royal Ahold Intention to Sel

(Washington DC) — The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) represents approximately 84,000 Ahold workers nationwide, employed under numerous company banners including Tops, Giant, and Stop & Shop.

The sale of its New York and Pennsylvania Tops stores will affect nearly 11,000 UFCW members.

The UFCW will continue to aggressively represent our members and enforce all union contract provisions while the company seeks a buyer for its Tops stores. We will actively engage with and impress on all potential buyers the necessity that UFCW members working at Tops stores maintain their union voice and good union wages and benefits.

UFCW members working at Ahold supermarket chains are some of the best and most productive workers in the industry, making Ahold’s U.S. operations, especially Giant and Stop & Shop, the crown jewels of the company.

Supermarkets operate to serve customers and serve communities.  Grocery jobs with good wages, affordable health benefits and job security – like those that come with a union contract – are good for the local communities and economies in which they operate.

If Ahold attempts to sell its Top stores without regard for what becomes of the workers and the community post-sale, the company risks tarnishing its reputation at every banner operating in the U.S.

The UFCW is ready and eager to work with any potential buyer, one that knows and understands the dynamics of the supermarket industry.

We will not sit idly by and watch what happens and hope for the best – we will actively support the best situated and most enlightened bidders to actively engage in the bidding process for the betterment of the company, its future shareholders/owners, and for the more than 84,000 Ahold employees represented by the UFCW.

The UFCW intends to protect all Tops’ employees and the community members that make up Tops’ customer base by ensuring that their interests are well served.

UFCW local unions with members working under Ahold banners up and down the East Coast are united to take action in solidarity to support UFCW members employed by Tops.