Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that our union members and staff would experience something just about as devastating as the labor dispute in 2003/2004.
The Haggen reductions in hours and layoffs have created a situation where emotions are high. It has caused undue suffering of our members and has resulted in an absolute headache for the staff here at the local.
We’re working hard to straighten out this mess as much as possible. At last count, we have filed nearly 100 grievances at our local union alone. Magnify this total by all of the other local unions in Southern California and Arizona, and it amounts to a lot of grievances.
UFCW Local 135 has also filed mass grievances on behalf of our members regarding a host of issues. The grievances pertain to the manner in which the company chose to reduce full-time members to part-time in mass, and conduct layoffs.
Some of the grievances we filed are due to practices in the outside departments. Haggen allowed individuals in Starbucks (stores that do not use GM Clerks for Starbucks) to perform GM or Food Clerk work. In addition to those grievances, we filed grievances in conjunction with the other Southern California local UFCW unions.
It has been an absolute nightmare to say the least. The worst part of all of this is that we members have worked many years at either Vons or Albertsons. And now because the stores were purchased and mismanaged by Haggen, now their employment is in a downward spiral.
In my column last month I had the sentiment that Haggen, although successful in Seattle, was obviously blindsided by the market in Southern California. That, coupled with obvious bad management and lackluster advertising was really their downfall. They were not prepared to go up against Albertsons and Vons continuous ads and coupons, “anniversary sales” and the like.
I tried not to see ghosts and blamed the series of circumstances on incompetency on behalf of Haggen. And this unfortunate circumstance involved our member’s livelihoods.
Now as time goes on, and more and more events occur I wonder how it is possible to be so incompetent that you cause catastrophic events in just a few short weeks. I must confess that I have never run a chain of grocery stores. But I would like to think if given the chance, I would have done a much better job. I honestly don’t know how I could have done anything worse.
As I mentioned before, we have filed grievances and are constantly in touch with our attorneys to strategize to find avenues to assist our members. The most important piece to all of this is our members and their families. We are doing what we can to help you. We truly care!