Apr
18
2011

Teamsters steamroller United Food & Commercial Workers.

Union solidarity is a myth.

David Freddoso has the details: essentially, the Teamsters and the UFCW are at cross-purposes when it comes to the Giant supermarket chain here in DC.  The Teamsters are angry at Giant because Giant parent company Royal Ahold is closing a Teamsters-controlled facility in Jessup, Maryland, in favor of a non-union one in Pennsylvania*.  This will be happening, and the real question is whether Royal Ahold will start the process with another Teamster-controlled Jessup facility.  As Freddoso mentioned, part of the Teamster’s push-back on this involves directly attacking the Giant supermarket chain’s reputation… which if successful will of course adversely affect the UFCW’s own workers.

Freddoso couched the whole thing in terms of Wal-Mart (which – like Target – is aggressively getting into the groceries game), but it’s really more a question of relative power structures.  Frankly?  The UFCW is a joke; at least, it was a joke back in the 1990s when I was an (involuntary) member of one of its local supermarket unions, and it’s highly unlikely to have gotten better since.  It collected union dues, and that’s about it.  In contrast, the Teamsters are, well, the Teamsters – which means that it’s a powerful union that can negotiate fifty grand lump-sum settlements for its members.

Match that up against minimum-wage cashiers who often can’t get full forty-hour shifts (a practice that often neatly avoids agreements about minimum pay and benefit requirements for full-time employees, and one that usually has the unspoken approval of union leadership), and it’s no contest.  The Teamsters’ first rule is to get theirs… even if it means that everybody else gets theirs, too.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Which is in the process of having its labor union reform issues being addressed: in marked contrast to, say, Maryland.

6 Comments

  • qixlqatl says:

    Dammit, just can’t seem to find my sympathy today! I know I had some around here somewhere….Oh, yeah. Today I mailed off taxes, so all my sympathy got converted to self-pity and used up, both for the depressingly small amount of money I made and the amount Uncle Sam demands….

  • s1c says:

    The teamsters ran the Edwards Warehouse here in CT, which became part of AHOLD when Stop & Shop and Edwards merged. The warehouse is now ran by C & S – a non-union shop. So AHOLD has plenty of experience in this type of thing. Don’t count on the Teamsters getting their way!!!

  • FeFe says:

    Watch out for the newest Maryland labor union reform; right-to-work state non-union workers must pay a portion of the AFSCME bill for negotiating their contract. Evil.

  • countrydoc says:

    “Walmart…getting into the groceries game”? I think you’re a little late to the party there, Moe. My wife has been buying groceries at Walmart for the past decade. BTW, K-Mart recently got out of groceries b/c it could not compete against Walmart for prices, although their meat was better quality. Also, as info, the comment about not being able to get 40 hour shifts is true for most retailers. When my wife was working and feeding the family while I was in medical school, McD, Taco Bell, Zales, BabiesRUS all never gave her full workweeks, just 35 hours. Saves on taxes, benefits, etc.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Really? When I was in retail hell – admittedly, this would be… yipe, twenty to twenty five years ago – I didn’t have any trouble getting hours at Mickey Dee’s or various department stores.

      Admittedly, that was… twenty to twenty five years ago.

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