UFCW Shouldn’t Repeat SoCal Mistake

Discussion
Dec 14, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, writes in the San Jose Mercury News that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), currently in labor negotiations in Northern Calif., should learn a lesson from what happened in the southern part of the state and work out a deal with Safeway and the other chains involved in the talks.


In other places where the parties negotiated, such as Seattle, a deal was struck that was fair to employees and helped the chains’ achieve personnel costs more competitive with non-union retailers. This happened without much of the public theatrics that polarized the negotiations in Southern California.


Mr. Dombrowski suggests that with so much at stake in Northern California, union members should be concerned about how the UFCW is negotiating on their behalf. He writes, “Will union leaders follow the example set in Seattle and negotiate with an eye on the future? Or will they seek to repeat the drama of Southern California, dragging store employees and customers into a dispute neither of them wants?”


Moderator’s Comment: What is your assessment on the current state of relations between the United Food and Commercial Workers and the supermarket chains
in Northern California and elsewhere? Have labor settlements in other markets made the chains more competitive as they have argued during the negotiations?


We’re with Bill Dombrowski on this one. “For the sake of customers, employees and the future of the unionized grocery store, let’s hope we’ve learned from
the past and are freed from reliving it.” We would only add that the union is not the only party in these negotiations that needs to learn from past mistakes.

George Anderson – Moderator

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