Market Share is a Critical Issue during Contract Negotiations
Every contract negotiation we go through with the main grocery stores is more and more difficult. One of the topics on the table that we discuss is the loss of union market share. During collective bargaining with the grocery stores, market share is always a critical issue.
When I talk about market share, I’m specifically talking about the union grocery stores controlled by the employers we are negotiating with.
There was a time when we had tons of union grocery store chains such as Lucky, Food Basket, Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, Safeway, Gemco, Big Bear, FedMart, and the list goes on. Over the years most of the union grocery stores have been bought, sold, merged or consolidated and we are left with two chains, Albertsons and Ralphs.
There used to be a union market on every corner, but because of consolidation and mergers, we are left with a lot of non-union stores and ethnic markets on every corner.
So now, the employers are attempting to lower your pay scales to those of non-union stores. The employers want to penalize our members for the smaller market share they created.
Because of consolidation, mergers and big box stores like Walmart and Target, have grabbed ahold of the grocery market. More than a third of all grocery workers rely on some kind of public assistance and one in five has trouble affording food. Wal-Mart with profits of $244 billion in 2015. We will not let the employers do that to our members.
Kroger, who owns Ralphs, earns about $108 billion in profits a year – they can afford to pay you a good, fair wage. Albertsons, who now owns Vons and Safeway earns $59 billion, which shows they can also afford to pay you fair wages.
They choose to hoard the money for themselves and their shareholders. They actually think they can keep these enormous amounts of money coming in without paying their workers a decent wage. It’s a perfect example of the one percent versus the 99 percent.
So while there are fewer grocery store chains, their profits are huge – and they still want to penalize our members – their workers – for their own dwindling market share.
To protect your market share, encourage your family and friends to only shop at union stores. When we stand together as workers in the retail grocery industry, we can fight for better wages and benefits and improve jobs not just for union workers, but throughout our whole industry.
UFCW members know all too well that non-union retail and grocery stores–like Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods–are often in direct competition with grocery and department stores where UFCW members work.
As anti-worker chains like Wal-Mart continue to grow and lower industry standards, UFCW negotiators are fighting harder than ever before at the bargaining table to maintain good wages and benefits.
All of the Southern California UFCW Locals remain focused on our key components: pension, health and welfare, wages, and working conditions.
We must all stand together and be willing to fight together to overcome the employers’ line of thinking.