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UFCW 8-Golden State Members Ratify Landmark Contracts With Safeway, Save Mart, FoodMaxx, Maxx Value and Vons Supermarkets

Members of UFCW 8-Golden State employed at Safeway, Save Mart, FoodMaxx, Maxx Value and Vons supermarkets in Northern, Central and Southern California voted overwhelmingly to ratify new labor contracts, the Union announced today.

“Union member Solidarity made these landmark contracts possible. Our members have proven once again, Solidarity Works!” UFCW 8-Golden State President Jacques Loveall said after mail-in ballots were counted on Oct. 3 and 4 at the Union’s offices in Roseville and Bakersfield.

“Our members appreciate the value of their new contracts, which are a model of what can be accomplished through interest-based bargaining,” President Loveall said.

The agreements include meaningful wage increases for approximately 14,000 UFCW 8-Golden State members at the five companies.

In addition, the contracts guarantee continued funding for strong benefits including an additional retirement plan for all members.

“These employers recognized the successes we’ve achieved in progressive health care plan design and our tireless work in re-inventing health care delivery,” President Loveall said.

In separate negotiations, members of UFCW 8-Golden State and other UFCW Local Unions in Southern California approved contracts with Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons in the region in September.

Meanwhile, negotiations continue between UFCW 8-Golden State and Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill and Food Source in Northern California.

UFCW 8-Golden State represents members working in grocery and drug stores, food-processing plants, distilleries, medical facilities and offices.

Source: Yahoo! Finance

Stater Bros. workers ratify new union contract

Workers at 172 Stater Bros. stores across the region have voted to ratify a three-year contract with the supermarket chain, a union said Friday.

The contract between San Bernardino-based Stater Bros., Southern California’s largest regionally-based grocery chain, was announced earlier this week on a union website. It was confirmed Friday by Andrea Zinder, president of Orange County-based Local 324.

Zinder declined to discuss the terms of the contract, but when the tentative agreement was announced several weeks ago, it was disclosed that it was virtually the same deal reached by the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons and Pavilions chains on Sept, 8. Workers at these stores voted to accept the contract later that week.

Zinder also declined to discuss the Stater Bros. vote margin but said it was “overwhelmingly ratified.” Stater Bros. employs about 17,000 retail workers who are UFCW members.

The deal includes wage increases of between $1.55 and $1.65 an hour over the three years of the contract. It also improves employees’ health care coverage, fully funds pensions and guarantees hours for veteran workers.

The ratification means that only Gelson’s, with locations mostly in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and Super A, with eight Los Angeles County locations, are without contracts. Negotiations are ongoing with both chains.

Southern California supermarket workers in September ratified a three-year contract with the region’s bigger chains, ending a months-long, contentious negotiation with a deal described as the best the union has received in three decades.

Some 46,000 workers at Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions stores voted to accept the contract. Thousands of UFCW members at the chains authorized a strike in late June.

Source: Press-Enterprise

Amazon’s Grocery-Store Plan Moves Ahead With Los Angeles Leases

Amazon.com Inc. is advancing a plan to open a chain of U.S. grocery stores with early outposts in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, according to people familiar with the matter.

In the Los Angeles area, it has signed more than a dozen leases, the people said. The first few stores are likely to be in the dense suburban locations of Woodland Hills and Studio City, while another grocer is slated for the city of Irvine, in nearby Orange County, a person familiar with the matter said. These stores could open as early as the end of the year.

Amazon is planning to operate dozens of grocery stores in cities across the country, part of the online giant’s increasing focus on a bricks-and-mortar presence to find more ways to reach consumers.

Many of the proposed locations are outside urban cores and cater to middle-income consumers. Apart from prepared foods, they will stock mainstream groceries such as soda and Oreos, people familiar with the matter said.

The company now has 16 Amazon Go stores, where customers can grab ready-to-eat food and grocery purchases checkout-free. It also has four Amazon 4-star stores, which stock products rated 4-stars and above on the Amazon site, and 18 Amazon Books stores.

Revenue from these bricks-and-mortar businesses is small but edging up. In the second quarter, net sales from Amazon’s physical stores rose 1% to $4.3 billion from a year earlier, compared with 16% growth recorded in its online stores, according to Amazon’s earnings statement. Sales in its physical stores include items that customers select in the store, but exclude purchases made online and picked up at a store.

One of Amazon’s first grocery locations will be on N. Topanga Canyon Boulevard, at a strip center in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, the people said.

Local building and safety departments recently granted contractors hired by Amazon permits to change the facade, start electrical work on light fixtures and fire sprinklers, and to install an espresso machine and kitchen equipment at the property there. Filings show that there will be a substantial kitchen, indicating that the store will offer prepared foods.

The roughly 35,000 square-foot store was previously occupied by Toys “R” Us, and its neighbors are Citibank, Office Depot and Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill. There is a Costco wholesale market half a mile away.

Paragon Commercial Group, the owner of the strip center, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Amazon doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation, said an Amazon spokeswoman.

Amazon is also looking at grocery spaces in the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey and Connecticut. Many of these locations are in strip centers and open-air shopping centers and would occupy about 20,000 to 40,000 square feet, the people said.

In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon’s new grocery chain isn’t intended to compete directly with the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market chain, which doesn’t sell products with artificial flavors, preservatives and sweeteners, among other quality standards.

The Journal was unable to determine what the new stores would be called or whether they will use a similar cashierless technology used by its chain of convenience stores, Amazon Go.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Tipping Point for Save Mart

The Save Mart Cos. is slated to open a new flagship store in Modesto, Calif., on Oct 2. It will feature made-to-order items throughout its fresh departments, as well as Save Mart’s new fast-casual restaurant—The Tipping Point—within the store.

Culinary-driven offerings are a mainstay of the “Valley Fresh” section of the new Save Mart, officials said. The section features a produce cutting specialist on staff; made-to-order smoothies; custom fruit bowls; ceviche, olive and pasta bars; and custom-made guacamole and salsa, Store Director Jerald Smith told The Modesto Bee.

“We’re going to make your life simpler,” he said in the on-camera interview. “You’re going to be able to walk up, fill a tray up, fill a bowl up. You pay by the pound—easy in/out.”

Fresh produce is another focal point for the store, which will offer a large variety of local and organic items. The flagship location will also feature a nut roasting and grinding area, where shoppers can get fresh-prepared nut butters.

The service-oriented meat department includes a smoker and a grill, where butchers will prepare customers’ meat orders while they shop.

With both indoor and outdoor garden seating, The Tipping Point restaurant will specialize in tri-tip barbecue served five different ways: as wet or dry sandwich, torta, taco or salad. Side dishes include street corn and churros.

In addition to its signature whole and plated tri-tip, The Tipping Point will have a wide selection of local beer and wine on tap. Local beer and wine selections will change seasonally and be announced to followers on the store’s Facebook page.

“We have a strong identification with how good food brings people together, and tri-tip is a staple in the Central Valley,” Nicole Pesco, CEO for Save Mart, said in a release. “The Tipping Point gives the community a new gathering spot to enjoy this amazing food in a comfortable atmosphere—and you won’t have to clean the grill at the end of the evening.”

In the coming weeks, The Tipping Point food menu and other signature prepared foods from throughout the new store’s hot bar and service deli will be available for on-demand delivery by DoorDash. Save Mart recently announced its plans to expand its DoorDash service throughout California’s Central Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area and Reno, Nev., in the coming months.

“Our aim is to meet shoppers where they are at—literally. DoorDash delivery offers a quick, convenient meal solution and complements our home delivery services,” said Bobby McDowell, VP of operations for Save Mart, in a statement.

Save Mart operates 83 Save Mart stores throughout California and northern Nevada. The grocery chain is part of The Save Mart Cos., which operates 207 traditional and price impact stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky, FoodMaxx and MaxxValue Foods.

Source: Winsight Grocery Business

Grocery workers’ union, Fred Meyer and others reach tentative agreement

After two days of bargaining that lasted through the night on Friday, a regional grocery workers’ union and four grocery stores reached a tentative agreement around 9 a.m. Saturday.

The tentative agreement heads off a potential strike at Fred Meyer, one of the stores involved in the negotiations, as well as ends a week-long customer boycott of the store requested by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555.

“We are now asking all of our supporters to cease the boycott and resume their normal shopping habits, including shopping at Fred Meyer,” the union said in a Saturday afternoon press release.

The tentative agreement covers about 18,000 grocery workers at Fred Meyer, QFC, Albertsons and Safeway in Oregon and Southwest Washington. About 600 of those employees work in the Kelso-Longview area.

The details of the agreement are embargoed until union members review and vote on the contract, according to the union news release. Union officials will send out dates, times and locations for the vote over the next few days, the release says.

“Our bargaining team is happy to report that we were successful in addressing all of our concerns,” the union said.

Representatives with the stores could not be reached for comment Saturday.

UFCW 555 and the four stores were involved in nearly 15 months of “unity” contract negotiations. The two sides had argued over wage offers, and the union had demanded the companies solve what it considered a gender pay gap.

The union was particularly upset with Fred Meyer, which union officials accused of using intimidation in response to the union’s decision to cancel its contracts with the store.

UFCW 555 filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month. The status of the investigation was unavailable Saturday.

The union was poised to strike at Fred Meyer after canceling its contracts with the store and passing a near unanimous strike authorization vote.

Last week the union asked customers to boycott Fred Meyer as the “first economic action taken by the union” in response to the “unfair labor practices” and the company’s refusal to response to union contract proposals, the union said.

“Our boycott against Fred Meyer was highly effective, due to your hard work in building relationships with your communities, who stood strong and proud with us!” the union posted on Facebook Saturday. “The boycott has ended, effective immediately.”

Source: TDN.com

The Online Grocery Report: The market, drivers, key players, and opportunities in a rising segment of e-commerce

Online grocery is growing rapidly from its small base. Its market value has doubled from 2016 to 2018, suggesting that consumers are starting to get more comfortable ordering essentials and certain foods online — a major barrier to adoption.

Meanwhile, one type of product that’s popular in online grocery, consumer packaged goods (CPGs), has seen the majority of its growth come from online. Although consumers may not be entirely comfortable buying items like produce online yet, that will likely come as their familiarity and trust in online grocery grows.

Online Grocery Forecast

Business Insider Intelligence

Grocers are rushing to take advantage of this potential, resulting in a highly competitive market. Both established grocery players and newcomers to the space are expanding their curbside pickup and delivery offerings — the two basic components of online grocery — in an attempt to grab market share.

They’re each employing different strategies to find success: Amazon is leaning on its e-commerce and fulfillment capabilities to offer a variety of online grocery services, for example, while Walmart is using its strong brick-and-mortar footprint to its advantage. Still, others, like Kroger and Aldi, are working with third parties such as Instacart to provide their services.

In the first Online Grocery Report, Business Insider Intelligence looks at a variety of grocers’ curbside pickup and grocery delivery options, analyzing how they compare with competitors’ strategies, how profitable they are for the grocer, and what their future may be. While companies like Instacart exist that offer online grocery services for other grocers, we focus specifically on companies that sell their own products. Finally, we examine different strategies companies can use to optimize the profitability of their online grocery offerings.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Aldi, Amazon, Ford, Instacart, Kroger, Ocado, Postmates, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Online grocery currently comprises a small portion of grocery overall but is on a rapid rise. Adoption is still fairly low, with about 10% of US consumers saying that they regularly shop online for groceries, according to NPD.
  • However, the value of the US online grocery market has grown from $12 billion in 2016 to $26 billion in 2018 and it has plenty of room to grow, given that the size of the overall grocery market was $632 billion in 2018 according to IBISWorld.
  • Both established grocers like Walmart and Kroger and players new to the space like Amazon are rushing to improve their curbside pickup and delivery options and all of them are employing differing strategies suited to their size and strengths.
  • Regardless of grocers’ individual strategies, they will all need to find a way to run their online grocery offerings in a profitable way and to address consumers’ barriers to adoption.

Source: Business Insider

UFCW cancels all Kroger contracts after aggressive action by Fred Meyer

After 15 months of unsuccessful negotiations, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 announced Sept. 10 the cancellation of all its Oregon and Southwest Washington collective bargaining agreements with Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer and QFC. The collective bargaining agreements contain a no-strike pledge, so their cancellation frees the union to strike or take other economic action against the company, such as a consumer boycott. Over the summer, members voted by 94% to authorize the bargaining team to call a strike, but the union hasn’t yet said that will happen.

The contract cancellation comes after Fred Meyer stores began posting signs in stores seeking to hire workers to replace its employees if they go on strike. The signs offer would-be strikebreakers $15 an hour, more than Fred Meyer pays many current employees.

Kroger is one of two grocery giants that bargain together as an employer group; the other is Albertsons, which owns Safeway and Albertsons stores. Safeway and Albertsons haven’t taken similarly aggressive action, and the union isn’t contemplating economic action against them at this time.

In bargaining, Local 555 is calling for big wage increases, and asking employers to address a gender pay gap. Local 555 says women grocery workers at Fred Meyer make $1.31 an hour less than men on average. There’s no reason to assume the gap is intentional, but managers have been assigning women applicants twice as often as men to jobs in a lower-paid “Schedule B” wage scale that covers work in the bakery and deli departments. The employers are proposing annual raises of 30 cents an hour (40 cents for Schedule B) — at a time when the Portland-area minimum wage is rising 75 cents a year.

Even though the contracts are cancelled, under federal labor law Kroger still has to maintain current terms and conditions while bargaining continues. The two sides are scheduled to meet for further negotiations Sept. 26 and 27.

Local 555 said in a Sept. 10 press release that it will release further information on union actions and requests for public support on Sept. 22.

Source: NW Labor Press

UFCW reaches agreements with grocery pharmacists, Stater Bros. workers

Pharmacists at Southern California’s major supermarkets and workers at 172 Stater Bros. stores have reached separate agreements on new union contracts.

The tentative contract for pharmacists at Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs was announced Tuesday, Sept. 17 on the website of United Food and Commercial Workers’ Local 1167, which represents Inland Empire workers. The contract with Stater Bros. employees was posted Wednesday.

Both contracts must be ratified by the union’s rank and file. Stater Bros. workers will vote Sept. 30.

The deals came about a week after UFCW and executives from the major chains ended an often-contentious six-month negotiation cycle that affected about 46,000 union members. The employees overwhelmingly accepted a three-year contract that provides wage and benefit gains, it was announced on Sept. 12.

About 17,000 Stater Bros. employees are UFCW members. The union and the San Bernardino-based grocery chain have typically agreed on contracts that are almost identical to the ones reached with the other stores.

Greg Conger, president of Orange County’s Local 324, said this typically is the case in this negotiation cycle. There are a few differences in the language of the contract, Conger said.

An estimated 600 pharmacists will vote next week. Conger said UFCW representatives will visit the stores and discuss the terms with each member, then record their votes. Details on both contracts were not publicly revealed, pending the votes of the membership.

“The pharmacy deal is a good one, it seems,” Conger said. “For all intents and purposes, it should ratify easily.”

In an emailed statement, a Stater Bros. spokesperson said the company was pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the union.

Source: OC Register

Walmart Is Testing a Fulfillment Service for Vendors to Match Amazon

Walmart Inc., looking to generate more profit from its online unit, wants to start storing and shipping products for third-party vendors for the first time, just as rival Amazon.com Inc. has done for years.

The world’s largest retailer is testing a fee-based service called “Fulfilled by Walmart,” U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore said at an industry conference this week. Lore didn’t provide details, but said the service would be an area where the e-commerce arm could generate revenue. It would allow Walmart to move more items from outside merchants, especially ones that generate wider margins.

The move could help Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business stem losses, which Morgan Stanley estimates may reach $1.7 billion this year, by making transportation a source of revenue rather than just an expense.

Amazon, which has operated its own “Fulfillment By Amazon” service since 2006, has found that merchants are willing to fork over fees since the e-commerce giant can often get goods to customers faster through its own distribution networks. Three out of four Amazon sellers employ fulfillment by Amazon in some capacity, according to Feedvisor, which sells advertising and pricing software used by Amazon sellers.

A Walmart spokesman pointed to comments Lore made on a call with reporters in August, when he said fulfillment “will be a future part of marketplace” but declined to say when.

Walmart’s fulfillment service is “exactly what they should be doing,” Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of data tracker Marketplace Pulse, said.

Walmart introduced its marketplace site for third-party sellers a decade ago, and it now offers about 75 million products, compared with Amazon’s selection of more than 300 million. Like Amazon, Walmart charges a fee — typically about 15% — to list the item on its site. But so far Walmart has relied on outside logistics providers to handle those orders. One of those, San Francisco-based Deliverr Inc., fulfills Walmart marketplace orders with a pledge of arriving within two days. Michael Krakaris, co-founder of Deliverr, declined to comment.

Walmart shares rose 0.8% to $116.97 at 3:32 p.m. in New York, while Amazon was up 1.3% to $1,846.60.

By handling fulfillment for everything from t-shirts to microwave ovens, Walmart could also reduce embarrassing incidents that occur when outside vendors hawk obscene or offensive products, like Nazi memorabilia.

Large Network

Walmart’s network of cavernous warehouses and its private fleet of 6,500 trucks has prompted speculation for some time that it could start a third-party fulfillment service similar to Amazon’s. In March 2017, Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said he “wouldn’t rule it out,” and in June 2017 Lore said “it’s something we talk about and consider.”

In its second quarter, Amazon’s revenue from so-called “third-party seller services,” which include fulfillment fees and listing commissions, rose 23% to almost $12 billion.

Source: Bloomberg

The next wave of labor unrest could be in grocery stores

Grocery workers in the Pacific Northwest are demanding higher wages and an end to the gender pay gap that permeates their stores. They have established proof for the latter, commissioning a third-party group to produce a report on the issue. The research group Olympic Analytics looked at the data on hourly wage, gender, age, years of Fred Meyer experience, and job title for 1,919 Fred Meyer workers employed in the area. It found that women are almost twice as likely to be given lead positions, but make about an average of $1.68 less than their male counterparts at those positions. In 2018, nearly 80% of the store’s bakery employees were women, while the higher-paying produce department was male-dominated. The gap between these two departments has barely shifted over the last 81 years: The pay gap between the two departments was 27.3% in 1937 and had only dropped to 21.5% by 2018.

Jane Thompson has been working at a Fred Meyer store in Bend, Oregon for 18 years, and has been in the Seafood Department for 12 of them. She hopes the strike authorization vote will lead to better pay for her and her co-workers. “The company keeps taking more and more away from us,” she told In These Times. According to the U.S. Census, the population of Bend increased by almost 30% between 2010 and 2018. While the boom has meant more customers, Thompson said it hasn’t meant additional hires or higher pay. “I’m doing the job of two people now,” said Thompson.

Ann Poff is a member of the union’s bargaining committee and has worked as a deli clerk at Safeway for nearly 22 years. She currently makes $1.85 above minimum wage, but the minimum wage is set to increase in Oregon over the next few years. This means that she’ll make just $1.45 above minimum wage for two years, before making just 75 cents above it in the year after that. “The minimum wage is going up, but our wages are going down,” she reasoned. According to Poff, when she once asked to be transferred to a different position, her request was denied despite having spent over 20 years on the job. A male co-worker with less than a year of experience was allowed to switch to the position instead, she said.

At the last bargaining meeting, the employers actually offered a proposal that inexplicably paid many departments less than minimum wage by the year 2022. When confronted about this fact, management offered a mere dime over the state’s minimum wage. “Fred Meyer/Kroger seem to be oddly comfortable being known as the grocer who profits off the devaluation of their workers…specifically women,” said the union in a statement.

Local 555’s president has indicated that there is a “high likelihood that we will see an economic action taken against stores in the near future” and has promised to release details before September 10. Meanwhile, California grocery workers at Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores have been working without a contract since March and have already voted to authorize a strike. On September 8, it was announced that the union and the employers had reached a tentative deal, but members have yet to vote on it and no details have been released.

This isn’t the first labor fight that has gripped the grocery industry this year. In April, roughly 31,000 employees at the New England grocery chain Stop & Shop went on strike at over 240 stores. The workers, who were also represented by the UFCW, were fighting against attacks on their pensions, rising healthcare costs, and the potential elimination of certain overtime pay. After striking for 11 days, the union agreed to a new contract and announced that the company had met their major demands. Ahold Delhaize, Stop & Shop’s parent company, says that the strike cost them $345 million.

That number might be frightening for the grocery employers currently facing potential strikes, but it’s also caught the eye of right-wing, anti-labor forces. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation aims to damage organized labor by fighting compulsory union membership in courts. Most notably, it was one of the groups that represented child support specialist Mark Janus, who ultimately achieved a massive victory for the political right at the Supreme Court. The group has filed two unfair labor practice charges against Stop & Shop for an employee named Matthew Coffey who opposed the strike.

Sam Hughes is a social media coordinator at UFCW and a former deli worker at Fred Meyer. Hughes, who prefers “they” pronouns, told In These Times that they had to work additional jobs because they often couldn’t get enough hours from the store. “I found myself being paid low wages on food stamps, cutting deals with my landlord just to afford below-market rent,” said Hughes. Hughes also said the strike authorization vote was a way to fight against the “dehumanization of workers,” and that related labor victories throughout the country underscored an important point: “There’s a lot more of us than there are of them.”

Source: Salon