Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

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Super S
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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by Super S » July 10th, 2019, 9:56 am

babs wrote:
July 9th, 2019, 8:23 am

Add Costco to the list of non-union grocers.

Has anyone see a recent list of market share in the Portland market? I suspect Kroger and Albertson stores going on strike no longer has the impact that it would had in years past. Hopefully both labor and management realize that before they go too far down the road towards a strike.
Around 1988-89 (shortly after moving to this area) Safeway stores in Longview-Kelso went on strike, and it drug on for several months. At the time there was Fred Meyer, Shop 'N Kart (independent with two stores), and Park 'N Shop (one independent store but had IGA affiliation) and Sinnett's Market Place. If memory serves me correctly, the independents mentioned, in addition to Fred Meyer, were all union but Safeway was the only one that went on strike. This area had a bigger union influence at the time and business shifted to those locations not striking.

Today, all of those independents are gone, and while Fred Meyer is still around, we also have Walmart (2 locations) and WinCo in the mix. If Fred Meyer and Safeway both went on strike, the only alternatives would be non-union. The economy in this area has declined and I am not so sure people care as much about this these days. (I am still somewhat surprised that this area can support three Safeways) People have to eat.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by klkla » July 10th, 2019, 2:34 pm

babs wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 8:31 am
Any idea if pay, benefits, or working conditions are any better in those unionized states?
I honestly don't know. The Teamster's argument is that the non-unionized workers benefit from the contracts negotiated by the Teamsters because the company has to increase their pay to keep those employees from organizing, as well.

The only analogy I can think of to that is in the airline industry. The flight attendants at American, United and Southwest are unionized. The flight attendants at Delta are not but they have to pay them the same to keep them from organizing, which is something they vote on almost every year.

The unionized Costco employees recently voted to keep the Teamsters as their union by a large 77.5% margin.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by storewanderer » July 10th, 2019, 3:08 pm

klkla wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 2:34 pm
babs wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 8:31 am
Any idea if pay, benefits, or working conditions are any better in those unionized states?
I honestly don't know. The Teamster's argument is that the non-unionized workers benefit from the contracts negotiated by the Teamsters because the company has to increase their pay to keep those employees from organizing, as well.

The only analogy I can think of to that is in the airline industry. The flight attendants at American, United and Southwest are unionized. The flight attendants at Delta are not but they have to pay them the same to keep them from organizing, which is something they vote on almost every year.

The unionized Costco employees recently voted to keep the Teamsters as their union by a large 77.5% margin.
The other argument is the union scales push up pay for management since you would not have an easy time getting people to move up to salaried non-union management if there was not an ample pay premium from a unionized clerk position.

As I reported in another thread, Wal Mart has been doing some serious layoffs of pharmacy employees. I heard up in WA, Kroger has a number of openings in pharmacy. Wages for techs there are $19-$20.80 at unionized stores and above $21/hr at non-unionized stores. Similar situation to the Delta situation you describe above.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by klkla » July 10th, 2019, 7:00 pm

storewanderer wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 3:08 pm
The other argument is the union scales push up pay for management since you would not have an easy time getting people to move up to salaried non-union management if there was not an ample pay premium from a unionized clerk position.
Isn't that a good thing? It's not pushing up the pay for executive management. It's pushing up pay for store level management. That seems like a win-win situation to me.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by rwsandiego » July 10th, 2019, 8:16 pm

klkla wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 7:00 pm
storewanderer wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 3:08 pm
The other argument is the union scales push up pay for management since you would not have an easy time getting people to move up to salaried non-union management if there was not an ample pay premium from a unionized clerk position.
Isn't that a good thing? It's not pushing up the pay for executive management. It's pushing up pay for store level management. That seems like a win-win situation to me.
I agree 100%. It also helps retain good managers. We complain about bad service, but bad service usually starts with a disaffected workforce. Service levels will rise when disaffected employees no longer feel disaffected.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by pseudo3d » July 10th, 2019, 8:21 pm

klkla wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 2:34 pm
babs wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 8:31 am
Any idea if pay, benefits, or working conditions are any better in those unionized states?
I honestly don't know. The Teamster's argument is that the non-unionized workers benefit from the contracts negotiated by the Teamsters because the company has to increase their pay to keep those employees from organizing, as well.
The problem with unionized stores I see is a reluctance to bring in "fresh blood" that will ultimately bring in new talent as older employees retire. Unfortunately (and specifically in California's case), newer employees will never enjoy the same benefits of older employees even if they worked the same time, and along with bumping, de-incentivizes even joining a store with a union. The results in Southern California, where the strike was "won" has had disastrous long-term effects on the market share of unionized stores, but no one will take the drastic steps to truly "fix" unionized stores as a whole.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by storewanderer » July 10th, 2019, 10:37 pm

klkla wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 7:00 pm
storewanderer wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 3:08 pm
The other argument is the union scales push up pay for management since you would not have an easy time getting people to move up to salaried non-union management if there was not an ample pay premium from a unionized clerk position.
Isn't that a good thing? It's not pushing up the pay for executive management. It's pushing up pay for store level management. That seems like a win-win situation to me.
Yes, of course it is a good thing.

But as there are pushes for minimum wage increases, it waters down the point of the union. Before the unionized grocery employee was making 2-3x minimum wage with excellent benefits... in the 90's. Now some of these locally mandated minimum wages are higher than union scale wages for lower or starting positions (of course they have to pay out at whatever the minimum wage is...). Add in union dues and suddenly someone in a low position is better off with a part time job at anywhere else if they are going to get $15/hr flat at McDonalds but $15/hr less union dues at the unionized grocer. Between new contracts with lower scales for newer employees, far more part time employees (direct attempt to get wages more in line with Wal Mart and the like) and now these minimum wage increases, I see the unions in grocery stores losing more and more relevance as time goes on. It doesn't help that there is little store growth from the unionized operators and most store growth today is non-union operators.

It is like, in the past, my thought was would you rather have 1 $15/hr union cashier who runs 40 items per minute over the scanner, or 2 $7/hr Wal Mart cashiers that can barely get 15 items per minute over the scanner? I would rather see fewer but more efficient employees.

And I am not saying this is good. I liked it better when the grocery stores were being run with a high concentration of dedicated, long term unionized hourly employees who were there getting a good wage and strong benefits. Efficiency, employee appearance, and the overall quality of the stores was higher back then in the 90's than it is today. I still expect that when I go into a unionized grocery store today. And I need to keep reminding myself these places are more under a Wal Mart style labor model now (even with the union)... compared to the old career union model of the 90's, and adjust my expectations accordingly.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by veteran+ » July 11th, 2019, 8:33 am

You know, I have been in retail grocery for about 25 years from Florida to Colorado to California and I have heard and studied all the theories and excuses about store levels wages and union vs non union. I have also been a successful small business owner twice.

I apologize in advance and hope no one gets angry but most of these "excuses" are nonsense.

Unions were never perfect and continue to be imperfect but without them it would be a different world today and it would NOT be good. We take so much for granted.

FACT: the demise of Unions is directly connected to low wages, benefits AND income disparity (Executives, Shareholders vs rank and file employees). Employees are usually awful advocates for themselves when facing their bosses. HR / ER departments are a joke and do nothing except protect the Company.

Better pay/benefits, better employees (as long as they are managed properly)...........period.

Companies do poorly because of flawed "business plans", poor market research, incompetent management, failure to change or evolve and often times plain ole greed......................NOT because they paid their employees well or too much.

There are other factors as well, like allowing anti competitive activities that REDUCE choice for shoppers and employees. Choice is power and all those "excuses" like efficiencies and synergies and better use of consolidated R&D, and blah blah will help the consumer and employee has only given more power to the Corporation NOT the employee or consumer.

IMHO :-)

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by storewanderer » July 11th, 2019, 10:51 pm

veteran+ wrote:
July 11th, 2019, 8:33 am
You know, I have been in retail grocery for about 25 years from Florida to Colorado to California and I have heard and studied all the theories and excuses about store levels wages and union vs non union. I have also been a successful small business owner twice.

I apologize in advance and hope no one gets angry but most of these "excuses" are nonsense.

Unions were never perfect and continue to be imperfect but without them it would be a different world today and it would NOT be good. We take so much for granted.

FACT: the demise of Unions is directly connected to low wages, benefits AND income disparity (Executives, Shareholders vs rank and file employees). Employees are usually awful advocates for themselves when facing their bosses. HR / ER departments are a joke and do nothing except protect the Company.

Better pay/benefits, better employees (as long as they are managed properly)...........period.

Companies do poorly because of flawed "business plans", poor market research, incompetent management, failure to change or evolve and often times plain ole greed......................NOT because they paid their employees well or too much.

There are other factors as well, like allowing anti competitive activities that REDUCE choice for shoppers and employees. Choice is power and all those "excuses" like efficiencies and synergies and better use of consolidated R&D, and blah blah will help the consumer and employee has only given more power to the Corporation NOT the employee or consumer.

IMHO :-)
I still think low wage competition has been a major issue that has killed many union jobs in this country. Be it low wage competition from a similar competitor here (Wal Mart in the 90's and 00's to grocers...) or globally (shifting manufacturing elsewhere since the wages elsewhere are so much lower than the US). I would not explicitly say union wages being too high killed US manufacturing (if the wage here is $30/hr and the wage elsewhere is $2/hr... the spread is just too high for the US to compete with... union or not) though some would say it did. As you point out, the executives always get paid. Even when they bankrupt the company in the form of retention bonuses.

Again look at grocery. In the past you had various unionized grocers from a mix of regional chains, independents, and the larger chains. Now in a lot of markets the independents are gone or almost gone, regional chains are gone or almost gone, and national chains have done mergers or market exits. It is almost to the point in some markets (let's think of Arizona) where the only unionized operators are Fry's and Safeway (not Albertsons). People like Lucky, Alpha Beta, and Abco who were union are long gone. There are basically no independents and probably never were many. When does it reach the point that there are so few companies as a part of the union that the union is no longer legitimately independent and simply acting as an agent of these companies? You know the eggs in one basket theory. In some cases this is where it feels like the union has ended up... and when the best the union can get is wages and benefits package that are like those of Wal Mart, it is harder to see what purpose the union is really serving. I know there is more to it than pay; there are benefits, there is the ability to file a grievance, employee assistance programs, guaranteed minimum number of hours, clear job description, various other protections, etc. but many part time employees are young and not looking much past the next check. I would have preferred to see the unions somehow help keep the higher standard of retail grocery employee in place instead of giving in to the demands of the chains and letting the standards lower to a Wal Mart type level. And that is a prime example of where the unions sold out their members for the benefit of the large chains. Again, I understand fully, it was the grocers who drove that... two tier contracts where young employees could never make what the older employees make even if they stay 25 years... union grocery jobs used to be very competitive sought after jobs in the 90's, now they can't fill positions. Something is going to have to change.

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Re: Oregon and SW Washington UFCW Union May Strike

Post by storewanderer » July 14th, 2019, 8:38 pm

More of an explanation on this:

https://www.bendbulletin.com/business/7 ... er-pay-gap

Once again these unions are missing the point. The meat people get paid more than seafood because meat is a higher sales/higher profit department. The produce gets paid more than the deli clerk because the produce is again a higher sales/higher profit department that also involves heavier lifting and more time in a cold box preparing produce. It has nothing to do with WHO is working in each department. It has to do with the profitability and job intensity of each department.

At this point, the OR union needs to just focus on getting a contract and adding meaningless distractions like this one into things only makes the waters muddier. Schedule A and Schedule B don't matter over at Wal Mart, Trader Joe's, Costco, Market of Choice, some non-union Fred Meyers, or WinCo. Focus on wages and benefits. If an employee feels they are wrongly looked over for a promotion between Schedule A and Schedule B, especially on gender basis, there is a grievance procedure they can follow.

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