Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fresh Direct votes 'No Union'

NEW YORK — FreshDirect workers voted against joining a union, but the United Food and Commercial Workers will renew its push to organize the online grocer in the new year, according to reports. Employees of the company, based here, had been courted by both UFCW Local 348S and Teamsters Local 805, but 80% of the 530 warehouse workers who voted over the weekend chose not to organize with either union, the reports said. The vote came shortly after the company asked workers to provide proof of citizenship, saying the grocer was the subject of an investigation by federal immigration officials. Neither the unions nor FreshDirect could be reached for comment yesterday.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Balducci's Infamous "Chanukah Ham"


Yesterday it was the worker who wasn't normally in the Meat Departments fault...Today Balducci's blames their employee in training program. If you haven't heard or seen this popular story picked up yesterday by the NY Daily News, Balducci's on 14th St. had this Chanukah Ham on display.

The article read
"A Balducci's official was so verklempt about the error he didn't want to speak on the record. He fessed up that "it was a mistake," blaming it on a stock clerk who normally doesn't work the meat department.. "
Today Balducci's came out with this apology on their website, noting they are reviewing their "employee training policy" the story was also picked up by the AP. It's no wonder that the employees at Balducci's are voting to Unionize on December 17th. The company continues to treat them with disrespect, as seen in this case when a Balducci's official quickly pushes the blame of a pre-made sign to a someone who "normally doesnt work in the meat department" Their slogan seems to be "When in doubt, Blame the worker" Gourmet grocery workers are constantly mistreated, whether it be in pay rate or ethically, they're viewed as a lower class person by the managment. is working to bring workers rights to the gourmet industry in Manhattan.

This simple corporate mistake by Balducci's is evidence enough to what Gourmet workers go through everyday, being blamed for mistakes they had nothing to do with and essentially having no rights in the workplace. If you'd like to help more workers like the ones at Balducci's please get involved by signing up here. Don't let Balducci's get away by passing blame on the people that make their company what it is, we need to come together in solidarity to show that corporations cannot walk all over the working class.

Check out our leaflet here, and if you happen to be by Balducci's this weekend please tell a worker that you support their campaign!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

25% of NYC construction jobs are 'off the books'


25% of NYC construction jobs are 'off the books'

The fiscal costs to taxpayers were $489 million in 2005 and are likely to reach $557 million in 2008, according to a report.

Buck Ennis

At least 50,000 New York City construction jobs, or 25% of the total, are part of the untaxed--and at times unsafe--underground economy, according to a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The study, the first comprehensive estimate of job numbers that elude the usual government data-gathering methods, is based on 2005 figures and probably understates the true count by as much as 15%, said James Parrott, author of the study and chief economist of the New York research group. The institute defines jobs as underground if they are misclassified as independent contractor work or consist of employment by contractors who work “off the books,’’ a segment that has boomed with the explosion of residential construction in recent years.

The fiscal costs of the underground sector were $489 million in 2005 and likely to reach $557 million in 2008, the study said. “Taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab for Social Security and the other payroll taxes that go unpaid when construction workers are hired off the books,” Mr. Parrott said. “And law-abiding employers are put at a real disadvantage, forced to bear many costs shifted to them from employers breaking the law.”

Costs fall into three categories: payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and social insurance premiums covering workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and disability insurance ($272 million in 2005); foregone income tax collections ($70 million); and the shifted cost of employee health care onto the workers themselves, taxpayers and other employers ($148 million).

In addition to the fiscal cost, the underground construction labor market puts workers at risk, the study said. Last year, 29 construction workers were killed on the job in New York City. Half of the deaths occurred among workers at very small construction firms and three-fourths of the workers were employed by non-union companies.

“It is surprising that (construction workers in the underground economy) is such a large number,” Mr. Parrott said. “It is a significant share of total construction activity in New York City. It’s puzzling that the problem has grown to this extent without a more concerted government response.”

The report called for better state and city enforcement of employment and tax laws and social insurance requirements. In addition, it said New York City and the state should require prevailing wages for all affordable housing contracts and any construction project benefiting from city and state funding, zoning or land action. The lack of prevailing wage standards has led to cutthroat competition and less-skilled and less productive workers, the report said.

But affordable housing developers criticized the idea of applying prevailing wage standards to affordable housing projects, saying it would raise the cost of such construction by 30% to 40% and greatly slow construction.

“I think it would be incredibly damaging,” says Ron Moelis, a principal at L&M Equity Participants, a major affordable housing developer. “Right now, the subsidy levels needed to build affordable housing or low-cost housing for lower- and moderate-income people are incredibly high. The city is currently putting not only land, but also millions of dollars, into affordable housing, and we are barely making a dent.”

Friday, November 30, 2007

Manhattan Supermarkets, soon to be extinct

By: JF

AmNY covered a story that has not received much press as of late, the rumors surrounding the closing of Pathmark on Cherry St. and the affect it will have on the surrounding community (The Downtown Express has been consistent with it's coverage of the situation at Cherry St head here to read it). It's a synopsis of what Manhattan and even our outer boroughs are becoming, a place for bodegas and small expensive stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to thrive. Last month the Daily News ran a story on the city titled "City neighborhoods losing character to condos, chain stores..." Here's a story from Tuesday from the Daily News on the invasion of chain stores in Brooklyn. This problem is growing fast, we all need to do something about it. How the city expects working families to shop at Bodega's or gourmet stores like Whole Foods is beyond me. We need more supermarkets that create quality jobs along with affordable prices. What we don't need is another string of trendy chain stores to drive up prices on working people. Please read the AmNY story below...Also urge you to read the Real Deal's report on the loss of supermarkets throughout Manhattan.

The Pathmark on Cherry Street is among the last supermarkets in Manhattan with a full parking lot. (Lane Johnson / November 29, 2007),0,3897614.story?coll=ny-travel-utility

Towering threat over LES supermarket

Pathmark feels ripple effects of shift in NY grocery store scene

By Andrew Lisa and Matthew Lysiak

STAFF WRITER and special to amNewYork

November 29, 2007

Olivia Henderson doesn't know where she'll shop if there's any truth to the speculation that the Lower East Side's Pathmark will soon be demolished for a skyscraper.

"It's not like there's nowhere else to go," she said, motioning to her home at the Rutgers Houses just across from the supermarket's parking lot. "It's just that there's nowhere closer -- and nowhere cheaper."

The blog-fueled talk began when a sales brochure revealed that the site is on the market for $250 million, and detailed the owner's two proposals -- one for a 55-story building to be built atop the Pathmark's current location -- and the other for two towers, each more than 50 stories -- to rise above the grocer's parking lot.

The talk of the latest behemoth building fits a larger pattern of gentrification of the Lower East Side and underscores the changing face of the New York grocery business.

"Throughout the city, smaller grocery stores -- neighborhood stores -- are getting pushed out by stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's," said Stuart Elliott, editor of The Real Deal, a New York real-estate publication. "Gristede's and Pathmark and those types of places are becoming fewer and fewer." And nowhere is the speculation more believable than on the Lower East Side, where enormous shifts have recently occurred.

"The retail mix is changing," Elliott said. "Varvatos replaced CBGB. You're seeing an influx of boutique hotels. What's been happening in the Bowery might affect some of the future of the housing there. Nonprofits are looking to cash out on their holdings there. The Salvation Army has been selling some buildings."

Pathmark had no comment on the future of the site at 227 Cherry St., nor did city officials and the organization behind the brochure, Developer Resource Group. No matter what, the Pathmark may well become the next victim of local stores succumbing to rising rents and intense competition from high-end chains. "There is no information yet," said Susan Stetzer, district manager for Manhattan Community Board 3, which encompasses the Lower East Side, "but it's clear that there is going to be some development."

She conceded that her office has been inundated with calls regarding the demolition of one of Manhattan's last local supermarkets with a full parking lot. The supermarket's popularity was unmistakable on a recent rainy Sunday a few weeks ago, with the lot jammed with cars and more waiting to get in. And the Pathmark's value to residents is also borne out by a startling fact: More than 95 percent of food stores in the city do not qualify as traditional supermarkets, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Like many of the shoppers who rely on the Pathmark, Marcus Davis brings his own shopping cart. Although the Cherry Street resident hadn't heard of the plan, he wasn't surprised.

"What's it mean? It means I'll have to pay twice as much at the bodega unless I want to get on a train to go buy food in Brooklyn. But what else is new? They keep building, we keep moving away."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brooklyn, Prepare for more Chain Stores

The NY Daily News writes today about the expanding presence of chain stores throughout Brooklyn.

Tuesday, November 27th 2007, 4:00 AM

Chains, chains, chains...

If you like your morning coffee in a venti cup, you'll be able to grab one at some 75 more Brooklyn Starbucks locations in the next three years.

But if you're a mom and pop shop in Brooklyn: Beware.

A recent Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable meeting revealed that retail giants such as Starbucks, Duane Reade pharmacies and Chase Bank are planning to double and in some cases triple their presence in the borough.

"Brooklyn has been underretailed for a very long time," said David Kramer, who was one of the organizers of the roundtable at the Brooklyn Historical Society earlier this month.

"What's happening now is that practically every week there is new story about a different high-profile retailer coming to Brooklyn," he said, while insisting that "the majority of the retail space [in Brooklyn] continues to be mom-and-pop stores."

Sources familiar with the meeting said that a representative from Chase, which now has 46 branches in Brooklyn, said that number will go up by 20 in two years.

A representative from Starbucks suggested that its presence may mushroom in Brooklyn at a rate of 25 new stores per year over the next three years.

"We are defiantly expanding and we are looking in Brooklyn," said a Starbucks realtor, who refused to elaborate on the details.

The vice president of Duane Reade, Michelle Bergman, suggested that the druggist's 30 locations in Brooklyn will double in three years.

But not everyone is onboard for more chains in Brooklyn. "We not getting any variety. You turn around, you get another real estate broker, another bank, another cell-phone store," said Irene Janner of the Brooklyn Heights Association.

"We certainly have enough drug stores to OD ourselves. Where's the butcher? Where's the baker? They're gone!"

And while it isn't yet clear which neighborhoods will be targeted by the chains, they do have certain criteria for setting up shop on your block.

Starbucks looks for areas with high street traffic and good income demographics, said a source.

Chase, meanwhile, likes big corner spaces and neighborhoods where the average income is at least $30,000 a year.

Still, for Robert Nadel, president of the Fraser Civic Association in Midwood and Marine Park, the thought of Starbucks on his block was as soothing as a creamy caramel macchiato.

"We have felt that we've been deprived of a Starbucks. It opened up in Park Slope but not yet where we would like to see a Starbucks," Nadel said.

"I love a Frappuccino every once in a while. They're a welcome competition."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wal-Mart vs. New York City


Wal-Mart vs. New York City

Reading the title of this article you’re probably dreading hearing all of the same statistics and figures on Wal-Mart and their effect on communities. However, this piece focuses on something different, something you’ve all contributed towards, keeping Wal-Mart out of our 5 boroughs. Here is a brief list of the sites you have kept Wal-Mart out of.

Queens: Rego Park

2 Years ago Vornado Realty Trust, a developer proposed shopping complex which would include a 132,000-square-foot Wal-Mart. The developer completed all the necessary filings with the city and the approval process was expected to take seven months. But through a unique joint coalition of union workers, politicians, local community members and religious leaders the community board, the City Planning Commission and the City Council all decided-- to reject it. This was a major victory in keeping Wal-Mart out of our city and the right step forward to preserving our quality jobs.

Staten Island:

After the Rego Park debacle, Wal-Mart’s attention turned to a more isolated borough…Staten Island. Staten Island is our most union dense borough in the city. The plan was immediately opposed by almost every politician from the area. But it was with the tremendous work from the Local 1500 S.T.A.R.T. team that helped get the message out to the residents how bad Wal-Mart is for the community. Whether it was hand billing on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the supermarket, or hand billing every morning at the Staten Island Ferry you all came out and showed how much you care.

Staten Island Part II:

For the third time in 18 months, the nation's largest retailer backed out of a deal to build a store in New York City. Wal-Mart officials quoted that their project on the south shore of Staten Island, which had been in the works since the beginning of 2005, collapsed because of the extensive environmental remediation required at the former industrial site. We take this as a victory, and don’t believe Wal-Mart faced environmental problems, they faced opposition such as a billboard in front of the entrance to the Staten Island Ferry, like all of the S.T.A.R.T. Members who volunteered their time to hand out flyers to Staten Island residents. Wal-Mart was simply frustrated that the public was finally educated, so they decided to withdraw their Staten Island plans…


The Bronx Terminal Market is a retailers dream. Being a great location and easy way to get to and from Manhattan, Wal-Mart continued their push to open a store in the Bronx. The community responded loudly when they developed a ‘Community Board Agreement’. An agreement drafted by community members and local politicians that the developer needed to be signed or the council would not approve the mall. The main point of emphasis in the agreement was strictly No Wal-Mart, a huge win for the community. Community members understood what Wal-Mart would bring to their neighborhood, increased crime and traffic, low wages, higher taxes, and simply bad jobs. Community members were not seduced by the appeal of low prices and number of jobs a Wal-Mart would bring, they analyzed that if an employer is going to come to the community they had better bring good jobs and quality wages.

Brooklyn: The Fulton Street Mall

Wal-Mart’s attention stayed within the 5 boroughs as the company tried to enter the Fulton Street Mall in Brooklyn. The Fulton Street Mall is a place where not only many families work, but own stores. Supporting local retailers and your community is something Wal-Mart consistently disregards and Brooklyn did not stand for it. The community along with the business owners of the Fulton Street Mall instantaneously came together to show their disapproval of the project. As one storefront owner said “People come here on tour buses when they want to see what real New York is like…Our people are crazy about bling. They aren’t crazy about Wal-Mart”. Wal-Mart and Brooklyn simply do not fit, Brooklyn has a history of being a community place, if Wal-Mart did in fact enter the mall the local retailers would lose up to 50% of their business to Wal-Mart. As the opposition continued to grow the developer listened, the same day of a rally put together by Local 1500 and the S.T.A.R.T. Team the developer released a letter stating Wal-Mart would not be a tenant of Albee Square.

Staying a step ahead

On August 1st 2006 Local 1500, community and religious leaders held a Town Hall meeting in the Bronx regarding Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart had not formally announced its plans to enter the borough but the community felt an obligation to educate the public on the negative effects Wal-Mart would bring…The town hall brought significant media attention specifically by the New York Times, which wrote

“The coalition forming in the Bronx includes members of Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union and community groups like the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition….The coalition’s members believe that Wal-Mart represents capitalism run amok, reaping billions of dollars in profits while snuffing out smaller family-owned businesses and offering workers low-wage nonunion jobs. “The Bronx needs jobs,” said Patrick Purcell, director of organizing for Local 1500 and coordinator of Wal-Mart Free NYC, which was formed in response to Wal-Mart’s attempts to open a store in Rego Park. “Just because the Bronx is trying to develop itself economically does not mean that it needs any job. It needs good jobs. It needs responsible employers.”

We’re trying to educate communities in low-income areas, places that Wal-Mart specifically targets as vulnerable, they’ll tell us they’re bringing 200 jobs to the community, but what else are they bringing? Do they tell us about the low wages? Do they tell us they’re not going to provide Health Care for their employees? Do they tell us about the tax increase we’ll be forced to pay because of their failure to provide decent benefits? It’s more than cheap underwear; it’s an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed before it starts. That’s why we held a Town Hall meeting in the Bronx, to continue to educate communities that when Wal-Mart enters your town you’re getting a lot more than cheap underwear.

(Pat this part underneath this was my intro, I then moved it to a body paragraph I thought it would fit better after we went through all the times we kept them out, its more of a part telling why we want to keep them out of the neighborhoods, so we can put it up to or simply leave it on the bottom)

So what exactly is the trend in being anti Wal-Mart? Many friends of mind ask me “Why shouldn’t I shop at Wal-Mart?”, or “I’m saving money so what’s the big deal?” We can all understand why people ask why we shouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart, the first time I saw a Wal-Mart advertisement everything looked too good to be true, seeing this little yellow smiley face cutting prices left and right I said “How is this even possible?” We quickly learned though that things were too good to be true. Constantly Wal-Mart is searching for low-income areas to open new stores by promising low priced goods and hundreds of “jobs”. I say “jobs” because this isn’t a real job, there is no reward in working at the world’s largest (and most profitable) employer. What Wal-Mart doesn’t tell you their average hourly wage is $8.23 an hour, which falls below basic living wage standards and even below poverty lines. Wal-Mart doesn’t tell you that their health insurance only covers 48% of their 1.3 million US employees, which brings higher taxes to our communities. Recently a study done by the staff of the United States House Committee on Education and Work force shows that because of their low wages, Wal-Mart costs federal taxpayers up to 2.5 billion dollars a year in the form of federal assistance programs. In 2005 Wal-Mart’s cost New York State was $61,497,167. This is simply due to the world’s largest employer’s refusal to provide a living wage and health care to their employees.

The biggest problem with Wal-Mart is their lack of respect for their employees and the communities they reside in. Currently Wal-Mart is involved in the largest class action suit in United States history, Dukes v Wal-Mart. The case began in 2001 when six women sued Wal-Mart in California claiming the company discriminated against women by systematically denying them promotions and paying them less than their male counterparts. Now the suit has expanded to include more than 1.7 million current and former female employees and has been certified as the largest class action lawsuit ever. The lawsuit has shed light on systematic discrimination women receive while working at Wal-Mart. Women make up more than 72% of Wal-Mart employees, though they hold one-third of the management jobs. Men hold 90 percent of Wal-Mart’s store manager positions and only one woman is among the Wal-Mart 20 top officers. In 2001, even for the same job classifications, women earned from 5 to 15 percent less than men.

Now ask yourself, would you want this company in your neighborhood? Would you not feel guilty shopping and spending your hard earned dollars at Wal-Mart when you see where their money is going towards? What town or community would want such a dreadful company? What happened to the respect of the working class? What has happened to our selfish society whose only care seems to be saving $2.00 on some underwear. I ask of the shoppers and employees of Wal-Mart when is it enough? It’s been enough for all of us who have worked on campaigns to keep Wal-Mart out of our 5 boroughs. We haven’t sold out our beliefs for cheap underwear. We’ve all stood strong in solidarity and told Wal-Mart, if they want to come to our city they have to change. Here is a brief synopsis of some of the times you have all worked to keep Wal-Mart out of the New York City, the only major city in the United States without a Wal-Mart.

It is now our responsibility, not even as union card holders, but as decent human beings, to spread the word on how this company essentially represents everything that is wrong with corporate America. We have a moral obligation to tell our neighbors that you’re better than that, and not to sell out your moral beliefs for a couple of measly dollars off the new SAW III DVD. It is up to you, if you want Wal-Mart to continue their nauseating business ethics continue to buy cheap underwear there. But if you feel like they are mistreating their workers and not giving enough back to the community which they profit off of, you hold the power boycott the stores. Don’t be sold on their cheap gimmicks and nice smiley faces, look what’s behind the face, a company which provides no respect to the workers or the communities they make money in. Union members and residents of the five boroughs have spoken out, today New York City remains one of the only major cities without a Wal-Mart. We haven’t sold out for cheap underwear and the illusion of 200 “good jobs”. We’ve all learned that they aren’t good for our communities, and that we’d rather have quality than quantity. For this you all deserve to be thanked. Thank you for standing up for the rights of the working class. Thank you for shutting the door on this company who will only bring empty promises and immoral working conditions. New York, you’ve shown a backbone in the fight against Wal-Mart, this is an amazing accomplishment and living proof of what we can accomplish when we come together. We now take the next steps together in bringing responsible employers to our communities, employers who respect the rights of working class people and who will pay us a living wage with health care. We’ve kept Wal-Mart out of our 5 boroughs, let’s now bring in responsible employers who will not only help us, but help our communities.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A&P gives FTC a 2 week notice

MONTVALE, N.J. — A&P said Monday that it has provided the Federal Trade Commission with a two-week notice of its intention to complete its merger with Pathmark Stores. As part of the agreement with the FTC, A&P said it had reached definitive agreements to sell certain stores to other operators. It did not identify the specific sites or buyers. By giving notice, A&P said it could complete the deal any time after Nov. 27, but that it expects the deal to close in early December

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A&P selling Metro stock to help finance Pathmark deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Supermarket chain The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc (GAP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Monday it intends to sell all its 11.7 million shares of Canada's Metro Inc (MRUa.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) to minimize its indebtedness in A&P's planned $690 million acquisition of Pathmark Stores Inc (PTMK.O: Quote, Profile, Research)

(PTMK.O: Quote, Profile, Research).

Based on the closing price on the Toronto Stock Exchange on November 2, the value of the Metro shares was approximately $435 million, A&P said. The stock closed up C24 cents on Monday at


The U.S. supermarket chain expects to use the proceeds, together with borrowing under a reduced bridge facility and a portion of its increased $675 million funding from a group of lenders, to finance the Pathmark deal.

In March, A&P sold 6.35 million shares of Metro, generating proceeds of $203.5 million.

A&P said if it cannot sell the Metro shares, it intends to finance the merger with committed financing, including borrowing under the bridge facility or an offering of senior secured notes.

A&P currently expects the Pathmark acquisition to close by the end of December.

(Reporting by Steve James; editing by Tomasz Janowski)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stop & Shop elected to participate in engergy saving study.

Stop & Shop is taking a progressive leap in energy awareness

The Super Stop & Shop grocery in Long Island City, Queens, is participating in a new system meant to take pressure off the local power grid. In times of peak demand, some of the grocery’s lights, air-conditioning and even refrigeration systems can be temporarily shut down — by a computer in Boston, 200 miles away.

Nationwide, several thousand businesses like Super Stop & Shop, as well as residential customers, are ceding control of their electrical systems during moments of unusually high demand. And they are being paid to do it.

The system, based on a concept called demand response, is one of the latest ways that Internet technology is being applied to improve the management of the nation’s taxed power supplies.

The supporters of demand-response technology say they can save utilities and their customers tens of millions of dollars by selectively curbing demand when the grid is at capacity.

Once the system is in place, the utility’s role is limited to notifying the operators of demand-response systems that it is time to start shutting down the lights remotely.

“We tie in to their electrical panel, toggle the relay and curtail 40 percent of their lighting,” said David Brewster, the president of Enernoc, one of several publicly traded companies in the demand-response business.

Read the entire NY Times Article Here

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

California Reverses 'Big Box Ban'


In a unanimous decision the Long Beach City Council has voted to remove a ballot measure that would ban "big-box" superstores that sell groceries such as Wal-Mart. The monumental ordinance was passed last year, but because of "financial reasons" has decided to remove the ordinance from a public vote on Feb. 5th The council decided to vote against this because it would have cost the city $500,000 to keep it on the ballot for public vote during the statewide presidential primary ballot. The opposition to the bill came from none other than Wal-Mart who funded a coalition called the Long Beach Consumers for Choice. Wal-Mart funded a petition to be signed by residents which cited the $500,000 fee to keep this ordinance on the ballot. The petition was signed by more than the 20,613 needed to take the ordinance off the ballot.

The council specifically stated that this was not a victory for Wal-Mart, and that it simply came down to managing the few funds they had, and could use the $500,000 for something else the city needs. The council did say that they do admire what the bill stands for, and that they want to do everything they can to keep local businesses alive. Though paying the price for this was obviously too much. Rick Eiden of Local 324 said of the council
"We've seen the destruction of small businessess and quality jobs in our community, and that far outweighs the $500,000 the city would be putting forward to say we're going to stand up to a big corporation."
324 has 3,000 members in Long Beach who would all be affected by the opening of a big box store.

"I cannot justify in these financial times, to spend $500,000 of our budget where we can use it in other places," said Councilman Val Lerch, who made the motion to repeal the law.

The city's $2.3 billion budget for the 2008 fiscal year that began Oct. 1 is estimated to be up to $10 million short of what is needed.

Even if the council had approved the ballot measure, the move likely would have been futile. Mayor Bob Foster announced Sunday that he would veto the measure if the council approved it.

Foster was quoted on Tuesday saying the council's vote wasn't a victory for Wal-Mart.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Kroger Avoids Cincinnati Region Strike

Kroger Avoids Cincinnati Region Strike

CINCINNATI (AP) — A union representing nearly 11,000 grocery workers says its tentative three-year contract with Kroger Co. provides employees with quality health insurance, wage increases and no benefits cuts.

The agreement, announced late Thursday, avoided a last-minute strike at 79 stores in the Cincinnati region. Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocer, hasn't had a strike in its hometown since 1971.

The tentative contract must be approved by the union's membership, and voting could begin next week, said Brigid Kelly, a spokeswoman for Local 1099 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

The union last month authorized its leaders to call a strike. They continued working under a contract extension that was scheduled to end at midnight Thursday.

Kroger officials and union leaders met for most of the day after a federal mediator set up new talks.

Both sides had made preparations for a strike. Kroger had said it would use managers and temporary workers to keep operating the affected stores in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana.

"From our perspective, the agreement is good news for our employees and customers, and we are looking forward to seeing our employees in our stores Friday," said Kroger spokeswoman Meghan Glynn.

Kroger also settled contracts this year in other regions including Southern California, Michigan and Texas without a work stoppage.

The company, which grew from a single downtown Cincinnati grocery in the late 19th century, has continued to dominate the local market, even as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has ringed the city with nonunion Supercenters in the past two years.

Other competitors — such as Supervalu Inc.'s bigg's, Midwest regional chain Meijer Inc. and various specialty food chains — also have increased their presence.

During negotiations, Kroger said it offers industry-leading compensation to employees in a highly competitive region.

The union said Kroger's workers have been key players in the company's growth and should share in its financial success. It had complained that Kroger wasn't fully funding pension and health care plans and offered subpar wage increases.

Pay raises in a proposal rejected last month ranged from 10 cents an hour for baggers to 95 cents an hour for department heads. Under that proposal, a top-rated clerk's pay would have increased 85 cents an hour to $15.46 an hour.

Kroger, which had $66.1 billion in sales last year, operates 2,491 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners, including Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith's, Fry's, Dillons, QFC and City Market

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chiquita Lays off 700 Workers


Chiquita Brands International Inc., owner of the Fresh Express Group headquartered in Salinas, has announced a restructuring plan and management changes that will lay off 140 jobs in Salinas. Chiquita has cut 700 jobs from its global operations - about 400 hourly positions and about 320 salaried and managerial positions, Chiquita spokesman Michael Mitchell said Tuesday.

Chiquita employs approximately 25,000 people in more than 80 countries and 1,540 in Salinas, according to its fact sheet. Fifty-nine percent of the corporation's business is outside North America.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Membership Involvment

By: Staten Island Representative Joe Castelli.

Union Membership is everyones responsibility, not just the representatives. Today, more than ever it's important for all of us to get involved and stay involved. If you go to work everyday and wonder what the union is doing, then you are missing the key point of union membership...
What are you doing? What are you doing to make the union stronger or healthier? Are you taking your 15 minute breaks? Are you making sure you're getting Sundays?
We pass out contracts, read them. If you're full-time you should be getting 8 hours on holidays... Request a contract by clicking this link right here.

Don't be coerced by your store manager or DM to give up your contractual rights....The Contract is a 2 way street, there are things that work for the company and for you, the member. Don't give your rights away, because once the next negotiations begin the company will want those rights back...Ask your union rep how you can get involved, there many programs and activities that the union continues to look for members to get involved in....The S.T.A.R.T. Program, Political volunteering, Organizing (sign up by clicking here for these programs).

The dumbest question is the question that is not asked, if you have a question please call your representative (to find your reps phone number click here) or just simply email our web master Joe Fedele here. Demand the rights and protection your contract gives you, don't give these away because your manager needs help making labor, that isn't your problem, that's their problem. And remember it's not a grievance until the company has denied you your rights under the collective bargaining agreement.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is it time for New York Supermarkets to start recycling plastic bags?

The New York Times Blog asks New Yorkers if it's time for supermarkets to recycle plastic bags. Here is an excerpt from the blog.

Paper or plastic? It’s no longer much of a choice in the United States, where plastic bags — introduced in 1977 — make up 90 percent of all grocery bags, according to the Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents plastic bag manufacturers. Now two City Council members, concerned about the number of plastic bags entering the New York City waste stream, say supermarkets should be required to take an active role in recycling them.

City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. are proposing legislation today that would require grocery stores to collect, transport and recycle the bags. The bill would put New York near the forefront of a movement to curb plastic bag use. The United States goes through an estimated 100 billion plastic bags a year, as Peter Applebome noted in an Our Towns column in September.
What do you think? Check out the rest of the opinion here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

S.T.A.R.T. Political Phone Bank Tonight

Attention all S.T.A.R.T. Members, Just a reminder tonight there will be a political phone bank at our office. All members who participate will receive 100 S.T.A.R.T. Points...Here are a few more events scheduled. Please call our office (800) 522-0456 ext.254 if you are interesting in participating in tonights event....Thanks!

Upcoming Volunteer Dates:
October 25th & 26th: Phone Banking @ UFCW Local 1500 Office 5:30-8:30, Members who volunteer will receive 100 S.T.A.R.T. Points

November 3rd: Election Day Prep
10 AM-2 PM in Suffolk and Dutchess Counties
Volunteers will receive 250 S.T.A.R.T. Points, Plus a S.T.A.R.T. T-SHIRT

November 6th: Election Day

Locations are TBA
Volunteers will receive 250 S.T.A.R.T. Points, Plus a S.T.A.R.T. T-SHIRT

Please send us an email if you are interested in participating in any of these events! Simply hit reply on this email to let us know you're interested! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Trader Joe's set to open up in Queens

In today's Daily News, Rachel Warton highlights Trader Joe's silent entrance to Queens.

Whole Foods may open each splashy new store with a frenzy of publicity, but the city's second Trader Joe's is practically sneaking into Queens: The California grocer opens a Rego Park branch at 90-30 Metropolitan Ave. this Friday.
Right now the Local 1500 S.T.A.R.T. Team along with organizers from Local 1500 are working to educate these new Trader Joe's employees on what they deserve as supermarket workers. A website has been launched to give Trader Joe's employees an idea of how "Joe" is betraying them. Check out

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wal-Mart, plans to open its first supercenter in North NJ...closest to NYC

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is planning to open its first supercenter, a store with a full supermarket, in North Jersey at the former APA Transport Corp. site in North Bergen, a company spokesman confirmed Monday. The news means North Jersey's regional supermarket chains -- Pathmark, ShopRite and A&P -- could have a food fight on their hands, as the nation's largest retailer tests the waters with one of its discount supermarkets. The store would be Wal-Mart's third supercenter in New Jersey, and the closest to New York City. Read more of this story...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Long Island Wal-Mart faces harassment suit...

(AP) — A man with Down syndrome who worked at a Long Island Wal-Mart is suing the giant retailer for harassment.

Brentwood, L.I., resident John Runza, who worked at the Central Islip Wal-Mart from December 2004 to May 2006, says he was threatened and ridiculed by fellow Wal-Mart workers and was also harassed due to his irritable bowel syndrome.

He seeks unspecified damages.

"While we can't comment on a pending lawsuit, I can tell you that the facts, as they have been described, are not correct," John Simley, spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based company, said Friday.

Mr. Runza's lawyer won a $7.5 million verdict last year over the job reassignment of Wal-Mart worker Patrick Brady of Centereach, L.I., who has cerebral palsy. A judge reduced the award to $900,000. Wal-Mart is appealing.

"When is Wal-Mart going to learn that you can't treat people with disabilities as second-class citizens?" said the men's lawyer, Douglas Wigdor.

Responded Mr. Simley: "Wal-Mart is committed to providing equal employment opportunities for all qualified associates and to ensuring diversity in all company practices and policies."

©Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fresh Direct Promises To Go Green

Fresh Direct will stop using cardboard delivery boxes. They'll use recyclable totes and bags instead. Seems like a big improvement, right? Bummer is that Fresh Direct will take up to three years to make the change.
Read more of this story here

President Bruce Both appointed to State Food Policy Council

UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both has just been appointed to the New York State Food Policy Council. The council was created in May of 2007 by Governor Elliot Spitzer and is designed establish new food policies for the state that will help ensure the availability of safe, fresh, nutritious and affordable food for all New Yorkers, especially low income individuals, senior citizens and children. Here is the Press Release from Governor Spitzer.


September 19, 2007


Governor Eliot Spitzer today announced the members of the New York State Council on Food Policy, which he established earlier this year. Members of the Council will work to establish new food policies for the state that will help ensure the availability of safe, fresh, nutritious and affordable food for all New Yorkers, especially low income individuals, senior citizens and children.

The Council will make recommendations to the Governor on state regulations, legislation and budget proposals in the area of food policy to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive inter-agency approach to state food policy issues. It is also tasked with identifying ways to increase the sale of New York agricultural products, with an emphasis on expanding the consumer market for locally-grown and organically-grown food. The Council will deliver a written annual report to the Governor.

"This Council will help the state coordinate its food-related policies and promote healthier communities," said Governor Spitzer. "The members of this Council will bring new and diverse expertise to this important policy area and I thank them for agreeing to serve."

The New York State Council on Food Policy includes representatives from all areas of the food system and will be chaired by New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker. Members include:

Linda Bopp, Executive Director of the Nutrition Consortium of New York State
Bruce Both, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union; Local 1500
Michael Burgess, Director of the Office for the Aging
Dr. Richard Daines, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health
Raymond Denniston, Food Service Director of the Johnson City Central School District and Co-Chair of the New York State Farm to School Coordinating Committee
Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York
John Evers, Executive Director of the Food Bank Association of New York State
Daniel Gundersen, Upstate Chair of Empire State Development Corporation
David Hansell, Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Dr. Susan Henry, Dean of Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Richard Mills, Commissioner of the State Education Department
Cathryn Mizbani, Senior Extension Administrator and WIC Program Coordinator of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County
William Rapfogel, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Metrpolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
Irwin Simon, Founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
Julie Suarez, Director of Public Policy for the New York Farm Bureau
Mary Warr Cowans, RD, CDN, and Associate Director of the Division of Nutrition at the New York State Department of Health
Eleanor Wilson, Corporate Dietician for Price Chopper Supermarkets, Inc.
Catherine Young, New York State Senator

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said, "The food industry is quite complex, and I am honored to lead this group of professionally diverse leaders and experts in the arena of food and agriculture. The experience and insightfulness of those on this Council make me confident that we will be effective in finding new and creative ways to improve our food systems for the benefit of all New Yorkers."

The Council will hold its first meeting next month in Albany.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New York's UFCW Local 1500 Endorses Clinton


New York's UFCW Local 1500 Endorses Clinton

The Clinton Campaign today announced the endorsement of New York's United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500.

"No one has been a greater friend of the working men and women of New York than Senator Clinton," said UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both. "Time and again she has supported our efforts to organize and improve wages, benefits and working conditions. She has fought for us as a Senator, and we know she would continue her advocacy for working families as President of the United States."

UFCW 1500 represents more than 22,000 members working in the grocery industry across the metropolitan New York area, and is the largest grocery workers union in the state.

"I am honored to receive the support of UFCW Local 1500," Clinton said. "America's working families have been invisible to this administration, and it's time they had a partner in the White House."