Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We'll be back...

Surfing BreaksImage by millzero via Flickr

The Morning One-Liners will be back on Monday April 11.

Thanks for stopping by!
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NY Daily News: A Union Against The Fat Tax

Liz Benjamin of the Daily News covers our position on the proposed 'Sugar Tax',  a regressive tax we oppose:
 Local 1500 represents supermarket workers. It stands to reason that some shoppers will change their purchasing habits if the fat tax is enacted, which could impact the bottom lines at markets. If the employers suffer, the employees will eventually suffer, too. 

From our Ad:

"We're all tired of being taxed by the government. Still, not all taxes are created equal. A Regressive Tax (the kind that hurts lower income people much more than wealthier people) is one of the worst. Any tax on sugar-based products will hurt thousands of New Yorkers in neighborhoods with meager purchasing options. In these communities, people are forced to shop in smaller stores, such as bodgeas and limited-product markets where they have fewer healthy alternatives. The sugar tax will force people to pay more simply because they have no other choice."

Read more:

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Trader Joe's coming to the Upper West Side, while another Trader shuts its doors

Two quick items:

Trader John's Grocer John's and Gristedes mongol John Castimatidis' play off of Trader Joe's is now "donezo" according to a NYC Blogger.

Trader Joe's Coming to the Upper West Side:
A new residential tower on the Upper West Side will soon be home to a well-known grocery chain, ending months of speculation among neighborhood residents. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
After more than two years, construction at the corner of 72nd and Broadway in Manhattan is now complete. "It's official. Trader Joe's will be coming. We expect them to open later this year. Other than that we can’t confirm what the date will be but we can certainly confirm that they will be coming to the building," said Gotham Organization Vice President Jeffrey Kaye.

Also, fyi the Blog will be down until April  12.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Morning One Liners: Shaw's, Fairway & Fast Food in NYC

The CEO of Fairway Market ended months of speculation when he confirmed the supermarket chain will open a branch on the Upper East Side at a Community Board 8 meeting Wednesday.  More @ DNAinfo.

New Stop & Shop in Farmingdale: They are set to open for business late spring or early summer, a spokesperson said. The 74,000 square foot store will be housed on a nine-acre section of land and is expected to create 30 full-time management and 140 part-time jobs, according to Stop & Shop spokesperson Kevin Ryan.

Cheerios first honored employees in Philadelphia, now here in NYC, Staten Island, ShopRite employees are being honored with their photo's on new Cheerios boxes. “It’s a reflection of the Staten Island community and the associates creating these results,” said Kevin Mannix, owner of the Graniteville grocery store.

JetBlue's HQ lands in Queens: Queens beats out Orlando in hard-fought battle to house growing airline; New York City to keep 950 jobs as JetBlue relocates from Forest Hills to Long Island City.

Hyde Park Set to OK new Stop & Shop — The town Planning Board is poised to approve construction of a Stop & Shop supermarket in the Hyde Park Mall after several years of board review and site-plan modifications.

Shaw's Strike
Supermarket News: Shaw's has told the union representing striking workers at its distribution center here that it has "started the process of recruiting and hiring permanent replacement workers" at the facility.

Eagle Tribune: Shaw's says it will replace striking workers.

Boston Globe: Shaw's will layoff 4% of its workers.
Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. said yesterday that it plans to lay off 4 percent of its store associates in early April in an effort to stay competitive and make its stores more efficient. The move comes more than two weeks after hundreds of its workers went on strike across New England.
Shaw’s spokeswoman Judy Chong said the cutbacks will take effect on April 10 and include “some full-time retail positions’’ in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. But she declined to say how many employees

UFCW Local 791 meanwhile has blasted Shaw's for issuing this threat:
“Many of these men and women have worked at the warehouse for many years. By threatening to bring in replacement workers, Shaw’s is jeopardizing the livelihoods of hundreds of workers and their families. It is long past time for the Company to return to the table and publicly demonstrate its commitment to their hard working and dedicated employees who have helped make Shaw’s a successful company,” Read more: Press Release

Progressive Grocer: UFCW 791 Rips Shaw's for Threatening to Hire Permanent Replacement Workers.

Supermarket News: Walmart On the Attack, Food Price Wars
“Wal-Mart is lacing up the gloves as it prepares to step back into the ring and win the modern-day price war in food retail,” said Deborah Weinswig, an analyst with Citigroup, New York, in a report issued last week. Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores posted a rare dip in comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter — an event that served as “a wake-up call for management,” she said.

BJ's Wholesale Club will be moving into new corporate headquarters in Westborough, Mass., early next year, a spokeswoman for the chain told SN Wednesday

South Hampton Press: Is King Kullen in the plans for a new store at the new Tuckahoe Hamlet Center?
The hamlet of Tuckahoe, a mostly residential community without much of a commercial center, may soon feature a large shopping development that includes a King Kullen grocery store, as many as four restaurants, more than 10 retail shops and about a dozen new apartments.


Crain's: NYC Sick-Day Bill to be Reintroduced.

Speaker Christine Quinn on the Big Mac Attack:
Hoping to stop fast-food restaurants from saturating poor neighborhoods, she announced plans Tuesday to single out the junk-food joints in the city zoning code.  Read more:@ NY Daily News
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Building Blocks Project Newsletter: Volume 12

Building Blocks Header

The Building Blocks Project works to establish policies that guarantee New Yorkers with Good Food, Good Jobs & Good Health. We strive to preserve existing supermarkets, develop new supermarkets and ensure workers rights to form a Union. For more information check out  Here is our current Newsletter:

Two Bronx Stores Receive FRESH Incentives
A Foodtown and a Western Beef, both located in the Bronx, are the first two companies to apply and receive FRESH incentives

The New York City Industrial Development Agency (NYCIDA) has approved the first two tax incentive packages that will aid the development of two new supermarkets in the Bronx.  This marks the first two supermarkets to receive incentives from the recently passed FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) program.  Let’s skip the politics in this one and get down to the core issues: Jobs and Access to Healthy Food, two of the primary reasons the FRESH program was created.
Though FRESH is still in its infancy stage, two ambitious companies in the Bronx are not missing out on what it has to offer.  Western Beef, who operates non-union, and Foodtown, a union store.  Foodtown will be receiving $3 million in real estate and tax benefits, while nearly $5.6 million in real estate and tax benefits were approved for Western Beef.   You don’t need to be an economist to understand the advantages of utilizing the FRESH program.   Foodtown is investing $3.7 million to build a new 11,000-square-foot supermarket in the Norwood section of the Bronx, to replace their old store which burned down in December 2009.  Western Beef has proposed to invest $11.5 million to construct a new 35,000-square-foot supermarket with a 20,000-square-foot warehouse and an unbelievable 33,000-square-foot parking lot.  The store will replace a smaller Western Beef nearby in the Tremont section of the Bronx.

What about jobs though?  Both stores are vowing to retain the 90 existing jobs and creating 65 new ones.   The FRESH program is enabling both companies to expand, improve their products, and operate more efficiently.

What about food? Both stores will have full service fresh produce aisles available daily to customers.

Foodtown is planning to enter a long-term lease for the property, while Western Beef is beefing up their entire operation with the help of FRESH.  Not only is Western Beef expanding their store by 10,000-square-feet, but the company is planning on opening new departments in the store such as a bakery, and full service deli.  Western Beef is also going green; they are also pledging to install energy efficient equipment and HVAC systems, and to use energy efficient building materials to reduce energy consumption.  

It seems to be a win-win for everyone; the community receives a store that is providing good jobs and fresh healthy food, while the company is receiving tax breaks and incentives.   New York City Comptroller John C. Liu though, is not ready to give his stamp of approval without a rigorous investigation, an act he pledges to do every time the city hands out taxpayer money.      “I take very seriously the job I’ve been given by the people of this city, and I intend to clearly examine our city’s finances, all the more critical in this tough economic period.”  “In reviewing the past minutes and project financing for the items on today’s agenda, I can see significant potential for great community benefits and improvements.  However, we are also committing a substantial amount of taxpayer resources to these projects – over $12 million today alone…It is therefore critical that my office gains a deeper understanding about the kinds of jobs taxpayers would be subsidizing, if costs per job are reasonable, whether all applicants have been treated fairly and whether all benefits being conferred are truly necessary.  Until I have completed such an in-depth review of standards and processes for granting these kinds of benefits, I cannot cast a “Yes” vote.”  We admire Comptroller Liu for expressing the desire to investigate and look over a project, which at its face value seems to be a no-brainer, too many times elected’s have approved finances at face-value, Comptroller Liu displayed much character with his “No.” vote.

To us, we’re really not sure why more supermarket operators aren’t utilizing the program.  It’s an obvious win-win for the operator and the community.  Maybe these first two are simply breaking the ice.

Obama’s $400 Million push for a Healthier America
The Obama Administration’s active push to encourage healthy lifestyles just took another step forward by releasing details on an over $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative

Last year Michelle Obama created a White House organic garden, encouraging Americans to become more self-sustainable by growing their own vegetables.  This served as a catalyst for a national discussion on the health of children throughout America.  Through the garden, she began a discussion with kids about proper nutrition and the role food plays in living a healthy life.

The Obama Administration’s active push to encourage healthy lifestyles just took another step forward by releasing details on an over $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative.  The initiative aims at bringing grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities across America.  Sound familiar?  UFCW Local 1500’s Building Blocks campaign began this same initiative (on the local level) a little over two years ago right here in New York City.   “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” said Mrs. Obama.  “This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved.  So, let’s move.”

The $400 million initiative was created to promote a range of interventions that expand access to healthy & nutritious foods, including the development and equipping of grocery stores and retailers to sell healthy food throughout communities that lack options, these areas are known as “food deserts”.   In order to help community activists and leaders identify food deserts in their area, the USDA launched a Food Environment Atlas online (

One of the primary reasons for the initiative are the plain facts, over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese.  One third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives; many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma. A recent study put the health care costs of obesity-related diseases at $147 billion per year.  A White House official also said “This epidemic also impacts the nation’s security, as obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.”

Michelle Obama's “Let’s Move” campaign ( pledges ambitious goals to remove all 'Food Deserts' in America in seven years, and to fight childhood obesity at the same time.   Let’s Move was designed to work with communities and identify the problems that are relative to them.  A White House official said, “Let’s Move is comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented and will include strategies to address the various factors that lead to childhood obesity.  It will foster collaboration among the leaders in government, medicine and science, business, education, athletics, community organizations and more.  And it will take into account how life is really lived in communities across the country – encouraging, supporting and pursuing solutions that are tailored to children and families facing a wide range of challenges and life circumstances.”  We’re ecstatic to hear about the Obama Administrations decision to tackle this growing problem occurring throughout the United States.  For too long food has been overlooked in politics, which has led to where we’re at today, with national obesity rates tripling over the past thirty years, and more than half of adult New Yorkers being overweight or obese we’re overjoyed about the Federal Government addressing this problem.

Plan for a Smaller Food Print 
The connection between the food and climate change is that carbon emissions are produced at every step in the food system...

Have you ever been overwhelmed with all of the problems with our current food system? Baffled by the thought of transforming our current food system into one that is sustainable?  Does reversing climate change seem utterly insurmountable? 

The “NYC Food and Climate Summit” organized by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, Just Food and New York University, took us one step further in developing a plan to reduce carbon emissions by transforming our food system. The product of this summit is a report entitled, “Food NYC: A Blue Print for a Sustainable Food System.” According to the report our food system refers to "a continuum of activities, including farming, processing, storing, distributing, preparing and discarding food." The connection between food and climate change is that carbon emissions are produced at every step in the food system.  Because our food system produces one third of green house emissions causing climate change, transforming our food system is a good place for us to start to develop a plan to reduce our food print. The ten-step plan outlined in the report recommends tangible policy changes that focus on building a vibrant local food economy.                 

Good jobs are a major part of the new food economy. Echoing the message of the Good Food Good Jobs Coalition, the report recommends that the City "require companies receiving City contracts or subsidies to pay a prevailing wage and provide health benefits for their workers.”  The report also calls on the New York State Legislature to safeguard farmworkers' basic rights by passing the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.
Imagine going into a grocery store and picking up a product that has a calorie label, a carbon emissions label and a fair labor practices label.  Better yet, imagine public policy that incorporates environmental concerns, fair labor practices and public health.  Now that we have a plan all we need to do is make it a reality.
Download the full report at:

Creating an Economy of Innovation
For all of the New Yorkers that are out of work, Speaker Quinn is providing some solutions to create the jobs we need.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been busy bringing programs and people together to create a job recovery plan for New York City. Her strategy is based on four principles; cultivate an economy of innovation, bolster small business, tax relief for small businesses and workforce education. In her 2010 State of the City Speech on February 18th, she laid out a set of programs, initiatives and legislation to address the challenges that high tech start-up’s face in New York City.

If we gave start-up companies the tools they need, New York City could be the center of innovation. Quinn announced developing New York City High-Tech Connect based on the San Diego Connect that helps start-up companies connect with resources like; talent, investors and a workspace. As well as a Municipal Entrepreneur Testing Service program that would alleviate some of the burdens that start-ups face in testing out new technologies by allowing City owned buildings to be used for testing out products. And to ensure financing, she is working on attracting companies like Citibank and New Grid Energy Solutions to invest in renewable energy.

So how do we keep existing jobs in New York City? According to Quinn small businesses are suffering from rules that “are enforced in a way that’s unfair and inconsistent.” A Business Owner’s Bill of Rights will be introduced requiring City inspectors to provide information to businesses before conducting an inspection. This year the City Council will be creating a “tax credit that will exempt mom and pop retailers from the City’s corporate tax” to alleviate some of the burdensome taxes they face.

In order to make sure that our workforce is prepared to fill these new positions we need to make sure that 1.6 million New Yorkers, Quinn declared  “that are out of school and do not have a high school diploma” are able to take and pass the GED. In order to make taking the GED more accessible, the City will be launching a website where people can register to take the GED and find preparation courses and other materials that will help them pass the test.

For all of the New Yorkers that are out of work, Speaker Quinn is providing some solutions to create the jobs we need.
You can read the full speech at:


South Bronx Fresh Food Retail Attraction Seminar 
Download the flyer: [pdf]

Bronx Invite 

For any questions or comments please send an email to

-The Building Blocks Team,

Local 1500 is on Facebook, & Twitter, Friend Us, Follow Us!  You can find all of our news on the 1500 Blog.
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Thursday Morning One Liners:

Arrajj said the supermarket tried to offer union members a $500 store gift card instead. "That doesn't help pay mortgages," he said.

-Dick Arrajj, who has been picketing in front of Shaw's stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for more than a week. From Today's Eagle Tribune, Massachusetts Shaw's workers picket at NH stores.

NY Daily News: Patsy's Pizza dishwasher sues for working conditions, compensation and firing

Brooklyn Eagle: More and more stores are going 'bagless' in Brooklyn.

WSJ: Some Harlem developers are having second thoughts on retail in Harlem.
A few years ago, real-estate developers had aggressive plans to bring trendy retail and office space to inner-city communities, which were attracting a growing middle class. Now, some of those developers are having second thoughts.  More @ WSJ.

Progressive Grocer: Walmart Opens 1,000th Money Center, Plans 500 More...
Walmart celebrated the grand opening of its 1,000th Walmart MoneyCenter in Chalmette, La., this week as it gears up to add another 500 locations this year.
“Walmart MoneyCenters are a cornerstone of our business and were specially created to give customers a welcoming environment where they can save when they cash checks, pay bills and transfer money,” said Jane Thompson, president, Walmart Financial Services. “Customers ask when their stores will get a Walmart MoneyCenter, so we are delighted to announce the expansion into approximately 500 more stores.”

Michelle Obama to food makers: Hurry up on Healthy Food!

You can check out BJ's Q4 Earnings Conference Call here.

Supermarket News: A&P has begun sending shoppers offers via text message and linking savings to their loyalty card when a reply message is received. Discounts are applied automatically when the card is swiped at the checkout.

Dick Arrajj has been picketing in front of Shaw's stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for more than a week. Arrajj has worked in the Methuen warehouse that ships food to Shaw's stores across New England for 20 years.
Along with other members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791, Arrajj said he doesn't want to strike, but will continue until the supermarket and union make a deal.
Even though none of the employees in New Hampshire Shaw's stores are members of the union, Arrajj said customers have been sympathetic to their cause.
Arrajj said the supermarket tried to offer union members a $500 store gift card instead.
"That doesn't help pay mortgages," he said.

Show your support for Shaw's workers on Facebook and by signing the petition!

Politics, City & Nation
Steve Levy, the former Democratic Suffolk County Executive, announced he will switch parties and run for Governor of New York.  More @ New York Times.

Democrat & Chronicle: Fight over grocery stores' right to sell wine escalates.

NY Times: Democrats Inch Towards Securing Votes for Health Bill

The Obama health insurance overhaul has Democratic Rep. Mike McMahon caught between conservative constituents who oppose reform, and unions threatening to derail his political career if he rejects it.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday News before Noon...

WFP logoImage via Wikipedia

New York apple growers, on behalf of 42 participating supermarket chains, have once again donated $25,000 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) as part of an ongoing effort to help fight cancer and raise awareness of the cancer-fighting benefits of eating apples.

The Brooklyn Eagle looks at the new Key Food in Bay Ridge. “You are the Number One supermarket in Brooklyn, and I’m thrilled that you’re opened again in Bay Ridge,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz at the grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday morning. “I’m so glad Key Food is investing so much in Brooklyn.” New Brooklyn Supermarket 'Key' to Brooklyn.

More @ Brooklyn Paper

ShopRite Employees featured on Cheerio's Boxes:
To raise hope and funds for the hungry and to increase awareness of the issue of hunger, 43 ShopRite stores participated in a six-week contest for National Hunger Awareness Month, September, sponsored by ShopRite and General Mills, ShopRite reported.
ShopRite associates raised nearly $500,000 toward fighting hunger in their local communities. To recognize this effort, 86 ShopRite associates, selected by their peers, represent their stores on a special-edition Cheerios box unveiled this month and available only at ShopRite stores this month. Each store was awarded $1,000 to donate to a hunger charity of its choice.

The founder of Aldi, Karl Albrecht, was named the world's tenth richest man.

Ohio: More and More Workers being Cheated out of Wages:
More than 200 Aldi store managers filed suit in January claiming the discount grocer had misclassified them as exempt from overtime. The case, pending in U.S. District Court, was initiated by Howard McNelley of Elyria, who spent nine years working at the Aldi in Brooklyn before being fired in June 2009. The lawsuit does not say why McNelley or other workers were fired.
Aldi released a statement for this story saying "As a matter of policy and practice, Aldi consistently adheres to all employee-related laws and regulations. We look forward to presenting the facts in court."
Walmart fired a Michigan man for using prescribed Medical Marijuana.

The Chicagoist continues a series of pieces on 'Working for Wal-Mart': Part three of the story looks at company employment practices:
As part of our on-going coverage of Wal-Mart’s attempt to break into the Chicago retail market, we take a look today at the company’s employment practices in the Chicago metropolitan area. Chicagoist met up with three Wal-Mart employees to talk to them about their jobs, company policy, and why they work there. Check out parts one and two of this story.

Supermarket News: Wal-Mart saw its stock rise about 3% in Monday’s trading after Citgroup analyst Deborah Weinswig upgraded the stock and said the company was poised to grab more grocery market share from traditional supermarkets.  

Here is the statement from the UFCW International on President Obama's Speech at the Export-Import Bank's Annual Conference.

The Food Consumer asks are you getting "cheated when you buy Organic?"

Shaw's Strike
Warehouse workers who supply fresh produce to a variety of Shaw's Supermarkets are striking and taking their dispute to the stores they supply including the Lynn Fells Parkway market.
Warehouse workers from Local 791 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Methuen walked off the job Sunday and onto the picket line in front of 12 stores in the Greater Boston area and New Hampshire.

The Boston Herald reports on the Fund set up to assist the 310 UFCW members on strike.

Politics, Nation
Sen. Arlen Specter racked up another union endorsement Monday as the Pennsylvania chapter of the Service Employees International Union said they will back the five-term senator in his Democratic primary battle with Rep. Joe Sestak. Read more @ Politico

NY Soda Tax, destined to fail despite push, TV ads: - A proposed new tax on sugary drinks appears unlikely to pass the state Senate, despite passionate campaigning by Gov. David Paterson and his health commissioner. Read more @ The Times Union

NY Post: Four House Democrats from New York yesterday emerged as crucial swing votes to pass President Obama's health-care bill, as the desperate commander-in-chief took his reform pitch to the heartland to troll for every last vote he can get.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Morning One Liners:

“We’re tired of being taken for granted,” said Alan Hughes, president of the Arkansas AFL-CIO. “It’s like, ‘We want your help to get elected, we want your money, we want the ground workers,’ but when it comes time to [act on the union’s priorities] … they’re not listening.”
-Alan Hughes, President Arkansas AFL-CIO in The Hill: "Unions taking on Dems who don't toe the Labor Line

Long Island Press: Whole Foods to open it's third Long Island store
The new location will open its doors in Lake Grove on March 17, but for the extra anxious the store will open for a public preview on March 15–just in time to pick up some organic ale for St. Patrick’s Day.
The new, 48,000-square-foot-store, located at 120 New Moriches Road, just outside of Smith Haven Mall and Trader Joe’s, will open just in time to serve area shoppers during the Easter and Passover season...

Whole Foods has sold another Wild Oats store, this one in Portland, Maine, to Trader Joe's.

Tops Markets announced today that they will be closing their Ogdensburg location, the former P&C store on April 10th, 2010.

Crain's: Groundbreaking at Atlantic Yards comes years late.

NY1 looks at the new Best Yet in Harlem. "They don't got supermarkets like this in this neighborhood around here. Maybe like 20 blocks away or 10 blocks away, but not in this immediate neighborhood," said shopper Angel Cortes.

Approximately 3,500 Costco Teamsters in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Virginia have ratified a new three-year agreement that includes wage increases and annual guaranteed bonuses that the labor union said will maintain the members’ distinction as the highest-paid retail workers in the country.

Sign a petition to support Shaw's workers:
Shaw's warehouse workers and Local 791 members in Massachusetts need your support! These Shaw's employees work hard to make their company successful, and they deserve a fair contract.

The Eagle Tribune: Shaw's workers vow to continue strike.

Nation & Politics

The Hill: Unions taking on Dems who don't toe the Labor Line

Frustrated at seeing their legislative agenda stymied, unions are becoming increasingly active in competitive Democratic Senate primaries.  Across the country, labor groups are using their organizational muscle early against candidates whom they see as having walked away from their agenda.
By doing so, they’re exposing schisms between centrist and liberal Democratic lawmakers who have struggled to come through on the campaign promises made to union members. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), healthcare reform and even a nominee to the little-known National Labor Relations Board have stalled in a Congress controlled by the largest majorities Democrats have enjoyed in a generation...
Retailers spend $850,000 lobbying in 4Q
The Retail Industry Leaders Association spent $850,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby on a variety of issues from health care reform to consumer product safety, according to a recent disclosure report. The Arlington, Va.-based trade group — whose members include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., The Home Depot Inc. and Target Corp. — also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving credit card reform, tarriffs on clothings, organized crime, and food safety, according to a form filed Jan. 20.

NY Times: Democrats Struggle to Finish Health Bill
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Morning One Liners...Duane Reade in Chelsea takes Whole Foods customers

Duane Reade Inc.image via Wikipedia

Gothamist: The new Duane Reade in Chelsea is surprisingly competing with Whole Foods.

SN: Another study confirms that the recession is continuing to impact food purchasing and consumption behavior, including the meat department.

Shaw's Strike
Progressive Grocer: Stop & Shop, Labor Unions Head off Strike; Shaw’s DC Workers Walk

Boston Globe: Shaw's workers take their strike to local grocery stores.

In Philadelphia, local stores and community members are appearing on Cheerios boxes
Employees at four Burlington County ShopRite stores are being honored on the backs of Cheerios boxes.
According to a spokeswoman, ShopRite sales associates raised almost $500,000 at 43 stores in South Jersey and the Philadelphia area. Chosen by their peers, 86 ShopRite associates appear on a special-edition Cheerios box being distributed throughout the region.

First Aldi stores in Texas to open March 18.

NYT: Obama Turns Up the Volume in Health Care Bid.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Morning One Liners: New England Stop & Shop Members OK Contract

New England Stop & Shop Negotiations:

Hartford Courant: Stop & Shop workers view economic climate, Vote Yes.

Brian Petronella, president of Local 371 in Connecticut, said the contract, which takes effect retroactively to Feb. 21 when the previous agreement expired, maintains a pension plan and keeps a health plan intact with full-time workers paying slightly more for health care.“Through the hard work of negotiators, we were able to reach an agreement that maintained our great health and pension benefits and provided general wage increases,’’ said Jim Carvalho, a spokesman for UFCW Local 1445, which represents 36,000 Stop & Shop employees in southern New England.

Supermarket News:
In a posting on the website of one of the locals, UFCW Local 1445, the union said 84% of the workers had voted in favor of the new contract.

Local reports said the new agreements call for full-time workers to "pay slightly more" for health insurance, which had been one of the sticking points of negotiations.
Employees will also receive a one-time payment up to $750, the reports said, in addition to scheduled raises during the next three years.

Shaw's workers reject final offer...
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791 members overwhelmingly rejected the Shaw's final contract offer over the weekend.   The vote was 228 to 8. Picket lines began outside the Shaw's warehouse in Methuen Sunday. All perishable food – dairy, produce and meat - for Massachusetts and Rhode Island stores come from that warehouse.  
“The members were basically insulted, to say the least,’’ said Peter Derouen, a spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791, which represents 309 workers at the Methuen facility.
Shaw’s said it “worked hard’’ to try to avoid a strike and is developing a contingency plan to keep the strike from affecting shoppers, according to a statement to NECN-TV.  Local News picked up the story here.

New York
Progressive Grocer: New Duane Reade in Chelsea offers more Grocery,  Fresh Food selections:
Duane Reade’s new location in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City marks the debut of greatly expanded fresh food and grocery sections offering such items as fresh sandwiches, single-serve entrees, baked goods and freshly packed salads and vegetables. According to the New York-based drug store chain, the new features, which place it even more squarely in competition with nearby grocery and convenience stores, represent the latest phase of the company’s continuing “brand and customer experience transformation,” in fulfillment of its “brand mantra” of “New York Living Made Easy.”

The Daily News reports that the search is on for companies responsible for the pollution of the filthy Gowanus Canal - and it already has yielded some big names.

WNYC: Labor Union Blues
Union organizing drives might sound anachronistic these days -- many people who are working feel lucky to have a job. But unions are still trying to grow in New York City, even in areas where they have struggled to gain ground, such as government contractors. Matthew Schuerman has been following the story of a union-organizing drive at an E-ZPass center in Staten Island. Here’s his first installment.
Isaac Colinares,27, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a worn-out neighborhood on Staten Island. It’s about a mile from his job, where he works answering phone calls and e-mails from E-ZPass customers. He started there two years ago....Read more by Matthew Schuerman

David Letterman is challenging the 2010 National Grocer Association's 'Best Bagger' on the Late Night Show.

Walmart exposed for 'Outdated and Sexist" hiring practices, Al Norman @ The Huffington Post.

U.S. Jobless Rate Steadies in February, sign of recovery?
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Morning One Liners: New England Updates, Bay Ridge Key Food opening date

Boston Globe reports: Union leaders involved in contract talks with Quincy-based Stop & Shop have issued 24-hour notices to end the collective bargaining agreement, which could trigger a strike if an agreement isn't reached by noon Friday.

Boston Herald: Nearly 40,000 Stop & Shop meat-cutters, cashiers and other workers could go on strike as soon as noon today in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Providence Journal: Contract talks between Stop & Shop and its workers are snagged, and union representatives said Thursday they will terminate their contract Friday at noon.

Tell Stop & Shop that if workers' are forced to strike, they'll lose my business. [Facebook]

Price Chopper has agreed to acquire six P&C supermarkets from Tops Friendly Markets, Tops said Thursday.

The Shaw's grocery store chain, which is selling all of its Connecticut locations, says it will cut 967 jobs at those stores.

Stop & Shop post Q4 Gains: Ahold announced fourth-quarter operating income at the company’s Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover division rose 15%, to $238 million, and full-year operating income at the division rose 24%, to $869 million. As previously reported, sales for the year were up 4.6% at the division, to $17.9 billion, including an extra week of sales in the most recent fiscal year. Adjusted sales rose 2.6%.

Protesters in Chicago rally against Walmart's sick-day practice.  “Wal-Mart would rather have their employees come in even though they are very sick,” said Moises Zavala, “just for the sake of stretching their profits

A new Bay Ridge Key Food is set to open up on Thursday, March 11, 2010. 

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Quick News: "Unaccepeptable proposals" in NE...

New England Negotiations, stagnant progress...
UFCW Local 371, which represents about 12,000 workers in Connecticut, said a proposal by the company Wednesday was unacceptable. Brian Petronella, president of the local, said it will terminate the current contract by 3 p.m. Thursday, allowing a possible strike, unless a better proposal is offered.  Read more of this story.

Westport News: Stop & Shop talks going down to the wire.

NBC says Stop & Shop could strike this afternoon.

Meanwhile Ahold's profits dropped in Q4.

BJ's posted strong Q4 gains.
The Douglaston Fairway is expected to open up this Summer, the Queens Courier reports.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday News...

UFCW 371 President Brian Petronella on negotiations with Stop & Shop "The proposal they gave us today is less than the proposal they gave us the last time," he said. "We're going backwards." More and an update in the Hartford Courant.

Last week UFCW Local 1459 and allies held an informational picket in order to draw attention to Stop & Shop's confrontational plan to use replacement workers if there is a strike.

Walmart Stores will pay $11.7 million in back wages and damages, and has agreed to provide relief including jobs, as part of a settlement of a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced here Tuesday.

Yahoo! has partnered with Walmart in the retail chain's single-largest digital ad campaign that rolled out in mid-February and will continue throughout the year.

Whole Foods announced they're selling two Wild Oats stores, one in Colorado, one in Missouri. is wondering if Acme's owners are shopping for a buyer.

Safeway, Inc. became the first U.S.-based retail grocery chain and manufacturer of private label merchandise to join The Sustainability Consortium, a science-based group of companies working to develop a more sustainable global supply chain.

You can now order from Fresh Direct on your iPhone, Fresh Direct is also planning on installing an Eco-Safe Ozone Disinfection System in its 350,000-square-foot refrigerated distribution center.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday News before Noon

Whole Foods to finish cleaning the Gowanus site by April.  More @ The Gothamist.

Photographer Nathan Kensinger, has posted a very interesting, insightful history of the relationship between the Gowanus site and Whole Foods.

Also Crain's has reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to decide this month whether to take over the cleanup of the polluted Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal and designate it as a Superfund site.

The White House blog has released a video of Michelle Obama's visit to the Fresh Grocer in Philadelphia, Michelle speaks about the goals of removing all 'Food Deserts' in America in seven years, part of the First Lady's 'Let's Move' campaign.

UFCW Local 1360 (NJ) and Acme have come to a tentative agreement.

The AP has an earnings preview for BJ's Wholesale Club.  The third largest wholesale operator in America expects to release earnings on Wednesday.

Harold Ford Jr. decides not to run for Senate.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday News at Noon:

New England Stop & Shop Negotiations 
"We gave the company a proposal [Saturday] night, and the company came back and said it wasn't acceptable," Petronella said. "We want to see what they're offering as far as health insurance, wages and pension." -Brian Petronella, president of Local 371, in today's Hartford Courant.

The Hartford Courant published a memo from Stop and Shop to their employee's on their latest contract offer.

Stop and Shop also told the Courant that their latest offer is worth nearly $3,900 more per worker.

A Connecticut blog asks customers, "Would you cross the picket line?"  Many have used this phrase to the right-

Three of the 11 Shaw’s locations in Connecticut that are being sold to ShopRite operators will be owned by new members of Wakefern Food Corp., the cooperative said Friday.

The recently sold Penn Traffic stores saw sales decline on a weekly basis during January, according to a document filed with the bankruptcy court.

Walmart is aiming to cut Greenhouse emissions.

New York Governor David Patterson announced he will not run for re-election.

Senate hopeful Harold Ford Jr. is now bumping heads with Rep. Charles Rangel.

The Mayor of White Plains was arrested for assaulting his wife.

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