The times are a-changing, as Bob Dylan famously said, and this is especially true in the retail food and drug business. Two major drivers of change in the 21st century have been corporate consolidation and technological innovation, and we can expect these factors will remain in play in the foreseeable future. Consider these two recent developments:
Supermarket News reports that the private equity firm KKR & Co. is offering to purchase Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), owner of 9,560 Walgreens and Duane Reade drug stores across the United States. If WBA accepts the purchase offer, it would result in the largest leveraged buyout ever, valued at approximately $56 billion. In 2017 Walgreens attempted to acquire Rite Aid at a cost of $17.2 billion, but that deal was blocked by federal regulators who said it would go too far in reducing competition marketplace. Continue reading “Times Change in the retail stores, but people will always matter”
Over the past couple of decades, we have seen unprecedented changes in the grocery industry. Mega-companies have bought and merged with other Mega-companies. Some have declared bankruptcy or have folded altogether. UFCW members have been disrupted, laid off, re-hired, and hit hard by new competition from less than scrupulous non-union employers, led by Walmart. Through it all, our members have preserved. They have continued to work hard for the success of their employers, and it shows. After all, it is those same employees who provide the excellent service that keeps drawing customers into their stores. Kroger, owner of Smith’s food and drug in Nevada and Utah, is doing well. Very well indeed. The Cincinnati- based company, which also owns Ralphs and food 4 less in California, Fry’s in Arizona, and a dozen other supermarket chains across the United Sates, is doing so well that it ranked third in a recent survey of America’s biggest retailers. The list compiled by Kantar Consulting places Kroger barely behind Amazon, the e-commerce giant. Walmart remains #1 in total sales, as it has been for more than two decades. With an estimated income of $123 billion in 2018 Continue reading “UFCW members contribute greatly to the success of top grocery companies”
Some of you may have heard that UFCW unions in California settled their contracts with several supermarkets employers, avoiding a strike in the southern part of the state. As our own negotiations continue in Las Vegas and elsewhere, many important issues are still on the table, including funding for our members’ retirement and health plans, and, of course, WAGES! We have told the employers that our members work hard in the stores and they deserve to share in the profits they make possible. Wages in the industry are not keeping up with the cost of living. Over the years we have seen major increases in rent, childcare, fuel, utilities and other everyday living expenses. So we want our members to continue to express their need for a substantial wage increase in the next contract, as well as other improvements. Keep in mind that Local 711 has developed strong ties with other labor Unions and community groups in Nevada and Utah, and with the support of UFCW nationwide we have a powerful Union alliance working on behalf of Local 711’s members, so we are not alone! Remember, stay strong in solidarity because solidarity works!
You might have heard about the recent UFCW strike at Stop & Shop grocery stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. More then 31,000 workers walked off their jobs on April 11 to demand a fair contract and fend off company proposals that would have effectively resulted in pay cuts for most employees. As one union supporter said, the union members “felt a lack of respect for the hard work that they do.” The Strike was settled successfully after 11 days, thanks to an overwhelming outpouring of support by the members’ UFCW brothers and sisters, as well as support from other unions and religious and community leaders. At the heart of the effort was the incredible solidarity of the striking members, who stuck together and supported their union through thick and thin. Similar stories are found in recent successful contract negotiations in the western United States, including Colorado, New Mexico and Local 711’s jurisdictions in Utah and Northern Nevada.
Fortunately, these contract settlements did not involve members going on strike. What they did have in common, however, is member solidarity. Members supported each other and their union’s effort. They stayed strong and solid throughout the sometimes lengthy and slow process of crucial contract negotiations. As this issue of Horizon’s goes to print, local 711 is working hard to negotiate new grocery contracts for southern Nevada and for additional contracts in Northern and Southern Nevada. At the same time, the grocery contract in Southern California, which also expired in March and covers 60,000 UFCW members, is also being negotiated. In these negotiations we must deal with difficult issues such as securing your health and retirement benefits. We are also committed to achieving a fair contract and significant wages increases. Improving wages has become a priority nationwide, and not just among unions. Progressive groups, community leaders, faith leaders, and politicians have also ramped up the pressure on employers to do better. In the meantime, it is essential for you, the members of Local 711 to continue supporting your fellow members and union. Use your voice! Speak in support of your union! Express your priorities, and expectations. Your opinion counts! Your willingness to stand together can make all the difference! Our success depends on your solidarity!