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New charges delay union vote at Mrs. Green’s

A planned union vote at Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets has been canceled at the request of the union so that federal authorities can investigate new allegations that the retailer violated worker rights to organize in the weeks leading up to the vote.

The retailer subsequently denied the charges, and called them a delay tactic.

The vote had been scheduled to take place Oct. 17, but a memo from the National Labor Relations Board issued Oct. 16 said the union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, requested that the vote be canceled so as to allow the agency to investigate, among other charges, allegations that certain workers saw their hours cut as a result of their support of a union, and were told they would not get raises as a result of the activity.

The Mount Kisco, N.Y., store has been the scene of long-standing tension between workers and the retailer, resulting in the firing — and subsequent court-ordered rehiring — of eight workers said to have supported formation of a union at the store. The workers were fired following a failed union vote there in 2013.

“Mrs. Green’s management is clearly intimidated by their employees banding together to collectively demand more from their employer, and the company has repeatedly shown they are willing to do whatever it takes, including breaking federal labor laws, to keep the union out,” UFCW Local 1500 president Bruce Both said in a statement.


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A spokesman for Mrs. Green’s parent Natural Markets Food Group told SN: “It is apparent that union bosses are using these desperate delay tactics because they believed Mrs. Green’s associates — in a secret, government-supervised election — would vote against them.

“But delaying the vote won’t hide reality: the entire family at Mrs. Green’s Natural Market — from the company leadership to our customers —has never been prouder of its hard-working associates. It is why we provide them with industry-leading benefits and promotional opportunities from within. Most important, the Mrs. Green’s family listens to and respects our associates. We always will.

“We hope these meritless accusations can get resolved quickly so that associates can have the right to choose for themselves.”

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Taking Sides: Union elections

Greg  Ferrara, VP of public affairs, National Grocers Association On Feb. 6, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board took a second attempt at dramatically altering the governing and timing of union election procedures when it reissued its proposed ambush “quickie” election rule, a proposal that would radically alter 75 years of board practice. The proposal is nothing more than “a solution in search of a problem” with far-reaching consequences for both employers …

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Acme, union wrangle over contract

Acme Markets and the union representing workers at its Philadelphia-area stores on Saturday agreed to extend their labor contract for 60 days, after the chain had threatened to terminate the pact over a healthcare dispute.


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United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 said in a message on its website that despite the extension, the two sides are “no closer” to reaching an agreement. The local has called a meeting Monday for its members, who have been working under terms of a contract that was to have expired more than two years ago.

Acme, a division of Boise, Idaho-based New Albertsons Inc., cited the need to bargain for a planned increase in its obligation to a multiemployer employee benefit fund. The company stressed that would maintain the same pay rates and conditions as it currently offers employees, and that it was looking forward to continuing negotiations on a new contract.

“After careful consideration, we provided Local 1776 with notice of the cancellation of the expired contract because of the risk under the contract of healthcare cost increases which we believe need to be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining process rather than unilaterally implemented on the parties,” Chris Wilcox, a spokeswoman for Albertsons, told SN before the contract was extended. ”We provide and will continue to provide some of the best healthcare coverage in the nation to our associates, but need to work with the union to craft provisions that work in today’s healthcare environment.”

Acme said associates in Local 1776 had healthcare costs that were 25% to 100% higher than four other union locals that represent Acme workers and 400% higher than the national average.

The union in the meantime said Acme has failed to make required contributions to the welfare fund. According to court documents, the fund’s trustees determined that projected health claims would require employers to contribute the maximum 10% increase for the plan year beginning May 1 last year. Trustees said Acme owed the plan more than $ 1.6 million as of December.

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Acme to cancel union contract over health fund dispute

TGF-FruitImageAcme Markets has told the union representing workers at its Philadelphia-area stores that it would terminate its contract with workers effective April 30, citing concerns about increasing healthcare costs.


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United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 has called a meeting of its members Monday to discuss a response, including a potential strike, the union said. The workers in the dispute have been working under terms of a contract that was to have expired more than two years ago.

Acme, a division of Boise, Idaho-based New Albertsons Inc., is citing the need to bargain for a planned increase in its obligation to a multiemployer employee benefit fund. The company stressed that would maintain the same pay rates and conditions as it currently offers employees, and that it was looking forward to continuing negotiations on a new contract.

“After careful consideration, we provided Local 1776 with notice of the cancellation of the expired contract because of the risk under the contract of healthcare cost increases which we believe need to be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining process rather than unilaterally implemented on the parties,” Chris Wilcox, a spokeswoman for Albertsons, told SN. “We provide and will continue to provide some of the best healthcare coverage in the nation to our associates, but need to work with the union to craft provisions that work in today’s healthcare environment.”

Acme said associates in Local 1776 had healthcare costs that were 25% to 100% higher than four other union locals that represent Acme workers and 400% higher than the national average.

The union in the meantime said Acme has failed to make required contributions to the welfare fund. According to court documents, the fund’s trustees determined that projected health claims would require employers to contribute the maximum 10% increase for the plan year beginning May 1 last year. Trustees said Acme owed the plan more than $ 1.6 million as of December.

Supermarket News

ShopRite sets Union, N.J., store opening

Village Super Market’s newest ShopRite store in Union, N.J., is set to open May 4, Wakefern Food Corp. said Tuesday.

The new unit, on Route 22 West, is a replacement store for the company’s Morris Avenue store, also in Union.


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The new store will be 60,000 square feet and will feature a “ShopRite Kitchen” food court with indoor seating, with specialty offerings like Scrunchi San sushi, Blueprint Subs & Salads and Mr. Perry’s Smokehouse, along with hot and cold food bars and a Lavazza coffee station. Several of these departments debuted at Village’s Morristown, N.J., store that opened late last year.

The store will also include a wellness center with a staff dietitian, a catering center, and the ShopRite from Home Internet shopping service.

“We are very excited to open the doors of this bigger, better and fresher location on Route 22 and look forward to continuing our long standing relationship with our Union neighbors,” said William Sumas, vice chairman of Village Super Market. “The new ShopRite of Union combines the traditional low prices and value that we’ve always been known for with unique product and service offerings to create the ultimate shopping experience for our loyal customers.”

Village Super Market, based in Springfield, N.J., operates 29 stores under the ShopRite banner.

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Bills seek to thwart ‘speedy’ union elections

Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that seeks to halt efforts by the National Labor Relations Board to change union election procedures.


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The NLRB in February had reintroduced proposed changes that seek to streamline the union election process — changes that are opposed by many retailers.

In response to the NLRB efforts — which had been voided once before by a District Court on procedural grounds — two bills were introduced: The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (HR 4321) was introduced by House Education and the Workforce Committee chairman John Kline, R-Minn., and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions ranking member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (Senate bill not yet assigned); and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (HR 4321) was introduced by House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn.

“We applaud chairman Kline, Rep. Roe and Sen. Alexander for fighting back against the NLRB’s efforts to erode employer and employee rights,” said Bill Hughes, SVP, government affairs at Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents large retailers and suppliers. “The proposed ambush election rule is deeply concerning as it jeopardizes employee access to information and silences employers’ dissent.”

The NLRB proposals, he said, “threaten the rights and privacy of employees, providing union officials access to personal information and creating ample opportunity for abuse.”

“Congress must act to halt the activist agenda of a rogue NLRB,” Hughes concluded.

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European Union threatens to ban import of Indian fruit, vegetables

European Union threatens to ban import of Indian fruit, vegetables

After Australia issued a serious advisory to Indian exporters over deteriorating quality of milk and its derivatives a few weeks ago, the European Union (EU) has now warned India over the poor quality of its fresh fruits and vegetables. Late last year, Saudi Arabia had threatened to ban Indian fresh fruits and vegetables, following which Indian exporters had adopted quality norms prevailing in the global market.

As recently as March 14, export promotion body, the Agricultural Produce Export Development Authority (Apeda), had issued an advisory to Indian fresh fruit and vegetable exporters to adhere to global quality norms. “The EU has raised serious concerns regarding the interception of harmful organisms in fresh fruits and vegetables exported to the European region. The EU has also threatened to take stern action (including a ban) unless the situation improves. We have assured the EU that India is fully committed to providing safe and pest-free exports of fresh fruits and vegetables to the EU and all necessary steps are begin taken in this direction,” said B K Boyal, director of Apeda in its advisory.

India has steadily increased its fresh fruit and vegetable exports to the EU in the past three years. From the level of Rs 1.29 billion worth of shipments in 2010-11, India’s exports of fresh fruits and vegetables shot up sharply to Rs 1.65 billion in the financial year 2012-13. But, India is estimated to surpass Rs 2 million during the current financial year in terms of fresh fruit and vegetable exports.

The warning from the EU has come at a time when India is looking to increase its exports all-round to raise foreign currency income and reduce the current account deficit. “India has committed that effective April 1, 2014, all exports of fresh fruits and vegetables to the EU would be routed through Apeda approved pack houses wherein inspections, examinations/testing of export consignments will be conducted under the supervision of plant quarantine personnel,” Boyal said.

Apeda, according to an official, has already conducted extensive sensitisation programmes to apprise the trade about the impending scenario. The authority has, therefore, warned that exports of fresh fruits and vegetables to the EU would be routed only through the pack houses recognised by it. “Though the quantity of exports is not big enough to worry, the threat will percolate to other markets, which would have a negative impact on India’s overall agri exports,” said the official.

Source: business-standard.com

Publication date: 3/18/2014


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Union Officials, Former Dominick’s VP on Chicago Task Force

CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday appointed 14 local officials to a task force that will work to find new owners for Dominick’s stores left vacant when Safeway closes the division later this week.


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The task force members include deputy mayor Steven Koch and other city officials; United Food and Commercial Workers union representatives Jorge Ramirez and Steve Powell; and Mike Mallon, a food industry consultant and former vice president at Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s.

Read more: Task Force Seeks Dominick’s Buyers

As previously reported, Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., plans to close all of its remaining Dominick’s stores Saturday. The wind-down included sales of four locations to Jewel-Osco and 11 stores to Roundy’s for conversions to the Mariano’s Fresh Market banner. Safeway is reportedly in negotiations to sell additional units to other retailers, including 10 to the Central Grocers cooperative.

The task force is seeking to identify new users for the unsold sites and market the properties to ensure the availability of fresh foods in the markets where Dominick’s stores are closing.

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Loblaw, Union Reach Agreement

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — Union workers at Loblaw stores across the province have reached a tentative agreement with the retailer on a new contract, according to United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1400 here.

The agreement, which still requires the approval of workers, came just days before the contract was to expire, the union said.


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Loblaw workers in Manitoba represented by UFCW Locals 401 and 832 reached a tentative agreement late last month.

Negotiations between Loblaw and workers are continuing in Alberta, where the union has called a strike deadline Sunday.

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Seattle Union Members Authorize Strike

SEATTLE — Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 here and two other locals have opted to authorize a strike by votes exceeding 98%.

The contracts, which cover approximately 20,000 workers at about 225 stores in the Seattle and Tacoma areas, expired in early May and early August. No talks have been held since mid-September, and none are currently scheduled, Tom Geiger, communications director for Local 21, told SN.


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Speaking on behalf of Allied Employers, the management group that represents Albertsons, Safeway and two Kroger-owned chains — Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers — Scott Powers dismissed the significance of the strike vote, saying it was “not unusual.”

“The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together.”

According to Geiger, the major issues in the talks include management proposals to require part-time workers, who comprise approximately 50% of the work force, to get health benefits through the Affordable Health Care Act; to freeze wages at the rates negotiated in the 2010 contracts; to eliminate premium pay for holidays and evenings; and to continue not to pay for sick days (an issue that was eliminated in the city of Seattle by a municipal law passed since the last contract negotiations but which has no impact on workers in stores outside the city).

Eighty per cent of the affected workers are members of UFCW Local 21; approximately 10% are represented by UFCW Local 367 in Tacoma, and the balance by Teamsters Local 38, which covers store workers in Snohomish County outside Seattle.

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‘Obamacare’ Stifles Negotiations: Union

WESTBURY, N.Y. — Union workers at King Kullen and Stop & Shop stores in New York said Thursday they were making “no progress” in negotiations on a new contract as the sides struggle over changes in health care law.

Contracts between the workers, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 here, and the retailers expire Sept. 28.


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“The Affordable Care Act is presenting tremendous and unprecedented challenges to these negotiations,” Bruce W. Both, president of Local 1500, said in a statement. “The complexity of this 22,000-page law, combined with confusing interpretations of the law by various federal agencies, such as the Department of Labor, IRS and Treasury Department, has left Union negotiators with no choice but to proceed slowly and cautiously as we negotiate the legally required changes.

“The one factor that has not changed during these negotiations, compared to previous ones, is our Union’s commitment to provide the members of UFCW Local 1500 comprehensive health care.”

Read more: ACA Adds Complexity to Contract Talks

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