Friday, September 25, 2009

Local 1500 Slams City Planning Dept. on Flaws in Supermarket Initiative...

Press Release: September 24, 2009

Grocery Store Union Slams City Planning over Supermarket Initiative, Will Seek City Council Support to Correct Major Flaws and
Tax-Free Gifts to Irresponsible Employers

New York City’s largest Union representing supermarket workers, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1500, announced that it will launch a major initiative to correct what they see as “major flaws” in a new supermarket initiative that was approved by the New York City Department of City Planning yesterday. They also expressed outrage over the idea that the initiative would provide tax-payer giveaways to irresponsible employers like Whole Foods.

“It is disgraceful to think that New York City, in these difficult economic times, would approve a plan to provide tax free gifts and zoning favors to a company like Whole Foods,” stated Patrick Purcell Jr., Director of Special Projects for UFCW Local 1500. “Never in the dozens of meetings between our Union and the City was it suggested that this was the goal of the FRESH initiative.

Whole Foods does hundreds of million in sales, aggressively opposes healthcare reform that will benefit millions of New Yorkers and sells what its own CEO John Mackey called “junk” at very high prices. Whole Foods needs and deserves tax subsidies from New York City about as much New York City residents need and deserve another subway fare increase,” Purcell claimed.

“Whole Foods doesn’t believe tax dollars should be used to help with our nation’s healthcare crisis but would happily accept tax subsidies to build more of its own stores.”

The Union announced it will initiate an aggressive campaign to educate and inform City Council members about “both the major flaws in the FRESH initiative and the misleading objectives that were presented to our Union over the past several months by City officials,” according to Purcell. “We negotiated in good faith for months so a fair and reasonable initiative could move forward that would bring New York City communities equal access to fresh, healthy and affordable food and what they got today was an expensive rotten apple.”

The Union will also reach out to the City’s other Unions, community groups and faith-based organizations.  “The 23,000 members of UFCW Local 1500 have an outstanding reputation of being strong partners with our elected officials and communities as we all seek ways to bring good food, good jobs and good health to our underserved communities. In fact, it was UFCW Local 1500 that brought this issue to the forefront with elected officials over two years ago when the issue was receiving little attention.  However, support for the FRESH initiative in the form it was sent to the New York City Council today is unacceptable to all New Yorkers,” Purcell concluded.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, based out of Queens Village, represents over 23,000 grocery workers in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties. Members of Local 1500 are employed by Pathmark, King Kullen, Stop and Shop, Gristedes, Fairway, D’agastinos, Key Food and Shop Rite.    

For more information contact: Pat Purcell, Or head to 

-UFCW Local 1500,

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