Posts Tagged ‘Unions’

18th August
2009
written by JHiggins

We covered the ongoing fight between Basha’s and the union HERE. Looks like another grocer is feeling the pressure.

From today’s WSJ:

These are views held by plenty of voters, but no matter; the hardest cases on the left have had it in for the Whole Foods CEO for a while. Instead, the company adopted a raft of its own progressive employee policies, such as letting workers vote on their own benefits packages, including health savings accounts.

Too often, business leaders who have useful contributions on a public issue are too fearful or self-interested to say what they really think. Detroit CEOs paid lip service to fuel-mileage standards even as the rules destroyed their business. The pharmaceutical industry after years of defending its business model hopped quickly into line for the Administration’s health-care reform.

Whole Foods is a publicly traded company, so the effects of a real boycott would mainly damage the pocketbooks of those nice Whole Foods employees and its stockholders. They may have little to worry about. Summer is nearly over and when the weekend farmers markets close, a real protest would require the store’s hyperprogressive customers to withdraw forever from the Whole Foods community to get their artisanal foods at the supermarket chain down the block.

Tags: ,
21st July
2009
written by Land Lawyer

From flyers that have been intercepted it appears that the Arizona Democratic Party in conjunction with  the grocery service union may have had a hand in pushing Eddie Basha’s grocery chains into bankruptcy.  Stranger still, Eddie Basha has been a major democratic supporter for years including a run for Governor as a Democrat in 1994.

Basha ran in the Democratic circles and is huge supporter of Hispanic education and donor of over $100 million over thier 75 years in Arizona to community causes. 

No doubt the economic downturn played a role as did heavy expansion fueled by cheap money. Things dried up for Bashas as quick as bankruptcy and foreclosures mounted in far reaching suburbs.

It appears that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been throwing everything they could at Basha’s, AJ’s and Food City since they failed to unionize the chain in 2002. Liberal local blog – Blog For Arizona,  weighed in on big bad Basha’s union busting tactics in 2006.
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A Local Tucson Political Connection?
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Guess who’s recieved a political contribution from the Phoenix union that played a major role in taking down Food City? None other than Tucson’s very own Karin Uhlich. Why would a Tucson council person receive a donation from a Phoenix grocery union local?

Her campaign also received by far the most from political committees: $3,500.

Those contributions included $1,000 from Arizona List, $410 from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and $2,080 from the political action committee for the United Food and Commercial Workers union’s Local 99 in Phoenix.

Here’s the story explaining the the fight between Basha’s and the union:

From The Arizona Republic:

It’s been the most bitter of fights.

And, for Bashas’ Supermarkets Inc., painfully expensive.

The grocer’s battle with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has cost the company millions of dollars in legal fees, damage-control marketing expenses and lost business since the escalation of the conflict in 2006.

On Monday, Bashas’ executives blamed the battle with UFCW Local 99, in addition to Arizona’s ailing economy, frugal shoppers and tight credit, for the company’s filing late Sunday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Union representatives defend their approach. The UFCW represents about 16,000 workers at Arizona Safeway and Fry’s grocery stores. It has spent years recruiting Bashas’ workforce, which has shrunk from 14,000 a few years ago to 10,700 today.

The union lost a bid in 2002 to represent workers at Bashas’ Food City Hispanic markets and tried to organize the whole company in 2006 when Bashas’ changed its health-care plan without consulting the union.

While Bashas’ is a non-union shop, UCFW has its foot in the door at seven union stores, which the company acquired a decade ago from AJ’s Fine Foods stores. Bashas’ refused to negotiate with the union, which sparked the first of dozens of unfair labor practices charges filed by the union.

Phoenix attorney Michael Manning, who represents Bashas’, believes the company may have been able to survive outside of bankruptcy without the union’s aggressive organizing efforts.

“It pushed them over the edge,” he said.

In its bid to represent Bashas’ employees, the UFCW has used boycotts, pickets, tactics designed to scare customers and a raft of federal complaints with the National Labor Relations Board and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other agencies, Manning said.

Bashas’ countered with a 2007 defamation/racketeering lawsuit against the union that recently amended to include extortion. The suit alleges the union threatened to “destroy” Bashas’ with the same tactics it used on Southwest Supermarkets and MegaFoods, if it didn’t allow the UFCW in to represent its employees.

Southwest and MegaFoods were non-union stores, like Bashas’, that earlier filed for Chapter 11 protection and ultimately went out of business.

“We can’t force union representation on our employees,” Proulx said of the company’s decision not to let the union in. “That’s something they have a right to vote on.

Bashas’ lawsuit alleges the union’s Hungry for Respect Web site has hinted that Bashas’ sells tainted Chinese milk and peanut butter laced with salmonella. The union also used the site to accuse Bashas’ of selling expired baby formula and violating health codes at its stores.

“They have used some of the nastiest tactics I’ve seen in all my years dealing with unions,” said Proulx, who believes the union planted the expired baby formula on its shelves.

The union attacks also have targeted Bashas’ Chairman Eddie Basha.

It has tried to link Basha with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in order to drive customers away from Bashas’ Food City Hispanic markets. Arpaio is known for conducting raids on businesses thought to employ illegal workers.

Cisco Echeverria, who oversees Bashas’ Food City stores, acknowledged the protests and demonstrations have kept customers away.

Union spokesman Corey Owens said the union is still organizing at Bashas’ and will file for an election when it has sufficient support.

Owens said the UFCW denies the allegations that it threatened to destroy Bashas’.

Besides what some describe as scare tactics, the union has filed dozen of charges against Bashas’ with the National Labor Relations Board and a number of complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Proulx called the charges frivolous, but some are advancing through the federal complaints process.

A complaint that Bashas’ discriminated against Hispanic workers by paying them less than Anglo employees is being investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC investigates only cases it believes have merit and has had to sue Bashas’ to get the company to cooperate.

Last year, an NLRB administrative law judge found that Bashas’ engaged in unfair labor practices by closing stores, replacing checkers with U-scan machines and altering health-care terms without telling the union.

A second NLRB case alleges, in more than 70 instances, that Bashas’ illegally tried to block the union’s organization efforts and retaliated against sympathetic employees. The case has been heard by an administrative law judge, but a decision has not been issued. Like the EEOC, the NLRB hears only cases it believes have merit.

Despite its efforts to organize Bashas’, the union has not officially notified the NLRB of its intent to represent Bashas’ or to hold an election.

Proulx believes that’s because the union knows it will lose.

“They just want to be let in without being asked in by the employees,” he said.

Those contributions included $1,000 from Arizona List, $410 from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and $2,080 from the political action committee for the United Food and Commercial Workers union’s Local 99 in Phoenix.

 

Way to go guys you push hard enough and you can actually take down a third generation businesses that employs thousand and serves Hispanic communities not to mention an important contributor to local non-profits.

Best of luck to Basha’s, AJ’s and Food City. I live near a Food City in Tucson and love their selection of authentic Mexican food ingredients.

A direct reprint from The Tucson Citizen in 2007:

July 16, 2007

Stanton : Bashas’ bashed

Tactics used by United Food and Commercial Workers union against the family-owned business raise far too many questions

United Food and Commercial Workers could almost double its union membership if only Eddie Basha and family would cooperate.

They won’t. So the Bashas are getting bashed.

In its latest assault, UFCW claims 683 cans of outdated infant formula recently were purchased at 55 stores in the chain, which includes Bashas’, Food City and AJ’s Fine Foods.

That’s a lot of cans. Even if it were true, which is dubious at best, expired formula isn’t harmful. And as a mother, I dare say the consumer can check the expiration date.

Besides which, the federal Women, Infants and Children program run through the Arizona Department of Health Services revved up market monitoring in the wake of these claims and has found all its contractors, including Bashas’, to be in compliance.

But maybe you got the flier from the union’s Hungry for Respect group – four pages of emotionally charged, color photographs of sweet infants.

Poor babies. Sucking down old formula all because of Bashas’? We think not.

This campaign against Arizona’s only family-owned grocery chain raises too many questions, even for me.

I was a proud, longtime member of the Denver Newspaper Guild. But my union didn’t indulge in strong-arming or blackmail to get its way.

As for UFCW, consider:

● Arizona’s Local 99 has 16,000 members; Bashas’ has 14,000 “members” – employees whom the company deems members of its family.

The National Labor Relations Board repeatedly has rebuffed UFCW efforts to unionize the chain’s stores.

The NLRB ruled Jan. 18 that the “petitioned-for unit is not an appropriate unit for collective bargaining . . .”

It ruled June 26, 2002, that the “petitioned-for multifacility unit of Food City . . . in Maricopa County is not an appropriate unit for bargaining.”

Bashas’ wouldn’t object to its employees casting secret ballots overseen by a federal mediator.

They did that five years ago, and UFCW withdrew after it saw the votes. Wonder why.

But Bashas’ won’t accede to the demand to simply give up its staff for union recruitment.

Arizona is a right-to-work state, and employees get to choose.

● UFCW seems quite fond of the “outdated products” complaint.

In California, UFCW wants to sign up Farmer Joe’s. Those markets, like Bashas’, want the NLRB to oversee any election.

In early July, as the Arizona union leveled accusations at Bashas’, the California UFCW claimed Farmer Joe’s was selling outdated groceries.

If both locals are so concerned with expiration dates, you have to wonder why they didn’t check other grocery chains, too.

But this approach isn’t new. Back in the early 1990s, UFCW was citing Food Lion in Virginia and North Carolina with selling outdated baby formula.

● Several Bashas’ workers “feel helpless” because they can’t “speak up in the work force,” said Katy Giglio, UFCW communications coordinator.

Giglio promised last Tuesday to have some of them call me by Friday. None did.

She said she would e-mail me, among other things, documentation on UFCW’s product collection methods, details on church workers said to have helped with that collection, and a letter she said UFCW sent Bashas’, offering at the start to let it inspect the cans of formula and sales receipts.

I got no e-mails.

● If the latter letter exists, it’s curious that UFCW made a big production of inviting Bashas’ to its offices at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to see the formula cans, UPCs, lot numbers and sales receipts.

Bashas’ officials, upon learning that the union had called a press conference at that time, skipped the media circus and went to photograph the items at 1 p.m. instead, said Kristy Nied, head of Bashas’ communications.

Eddie Basha, whose father and uncle opened the family’s first store in Goodyear in 1932, is incensed that UFCW is impugning his family name and his employees’ integrity.

In Tucson last week, he cited the story of the Little Red Hen, who planted seeds and harvested and ground the wheat but didn’t get offers of help till she’d baked the bread.

After 75 years of building a business, “Now the union looks very avariciously at these 14,000 family members (workers) and what the pot would be if they could sign them up.”

With Bashas’ pay and benefits, including a fully funded pension plan, 401(k) with matching contributions, tuition grants and “member-to-member” program to help Bashas’ employees in need, “We care more than the union does,” he said.

Bashas’ has contributed more than $100 million to community causes, he noted, asking: “What the hell has the union given to this community?”

Bashas’ now is exploring every legal option available.

“I’m going to fight them in the streets; I’m going to fight them in the sewers; I’m going to fight them wherever I have to fight them,” Basha told me.

“They have tenacity, and they think we’re not going to have any fortitude.

“They picked the wrong Marine.”

Semper fi, Eddie.

Billie Stanton may be reached at 573-4664 or bstanton@tucsoncitizen.com.

9th March
2009
written by Arizona Kid

From Arizona Republic – Looks like Gaylord is trying to get their resort/convention center project on the ballot for the voters of Mesa to decide. Read the full article – HERE.

Gaylord, if you remember was eliminated as a finalist in the Rio Nuevo project back in 2007 – HERE.  Intersting point from the article included an explaination of a unionization requirement at the new hotel and convetion center;

The union language is just a paragraph slipped into the hotel request for proposals requiring a “labor peace agreement” between the hotel operator and any labor organization that seeks to represent employees there. In turn, the peace agreement requires the union to promise not to go on strike against the hotel.

The union agreement will also be popular with the city’s five-member Democratic majority, which includes several pro-union council members.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich said the agreement is obviously pro-union, but she said it is also pro-business because the union gives guarantees it won’t strike against the hotel.

Some of the highlights of the Mesa deal;

On Tuesday, Mesa voters will decide whether to buy into the vision, approving tax incentives to help finance the project, whose centerpiece would be a Gaylord hotel and convention center. Along with the second resort and other amenities, the initial private investment is estimated at about $1 billion.

If voters say yes, and the vision pans out, proponents say it will transform Arizona’s third-largest city into an international business and tourism destination….

Voters in 1999 turned down a $1.8 billion plan to build a stadium for the Arizona Cardinals in west Mesa. Several years later they approved a big tax subsidy for a retail development on the same piece of land, now known as Mesa Riverview, but critics say Riverview has failed to live up to its promise.

A downtown water-themed project failed to materialize after the city spent millions to acquire land for it about a decade ago, and a more recent proposal for the Waveyard resort not far from Riverview has been stalled by the economy.

So with a history of grandiose proposals in Mesa, what makes anyone think this is the one that will work?

Critics, meanwhile, question whether tax incentives should be used to fuel a private enterprise, no matter how grand….

Mesa will actually own the Gaylord convention center, and that is what triggered the election.

Voters would need to approve rebates on hotel-bed taxes for the two resorts totaling $51 million over 30 years.

Gaylord, DMB and Mesa marshaled an impressive list of business, political and civic leaders to provide ballot arguments for the election, and not one of them urged a “no” vote….

“I guarantee that the businesses that move next to that hotel won’t be getting a tax break,” Gray said.

His concerns are echoed by Clint Bolick, a lawyer for the libertarian Goldwater Institute.

Bolick is fresh off a December court victory involving Phoenix and its CityNorth mixed-use development. Bolick argued that Phoenix’s $97.4 million subsidy to CityNorth violated the Arizona Constitution, which prohibits giving public money to private enterprise. The state Court of Appeals agreed.

Bolick thinks Mesa’s Gaylord deal is similarly questionable, but he will not challenge it until the state Supreme Court rules on an appeal of the CityNorth ruling.

Smith said the two cases are not comparable because bed taxes are used only to promote tourism, and the rebate arrangement requires the two resorts to continue to use the rebates for that purpose.

Mesa officials have stressed that unlike CityNorth, no general-fund tax revenues will be rebated.

 

 

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