- First they sell the company or change management.
- Then they promise the community that they will provide MORE jobs.
- Then they cut benefits to part time workers.
- Finally, they start firing full time workers and replacing them with non-benefit part time jobs.
The new management kept their promise to provide more jobs allright, but a lot of people with long term careers are out of work or have had their hours cut to part time (and their benefits eliminated) and a lot more people are working non-family supporting jobs without benefits.Piggly Wiggly's new management is in Step 3 above. I guarantee you if they can cut part time benefits, they will get to step 4 almost immediately. People will begin to be fired over petty issues. Long term workers will be forced into retirement or forced to have their hours cut to 37.5 hours a week (to keep them out of the benefit range). Two or 3 new younger employees with little or no experience in food safety or grocery stores will take a job that used to support a family. With little or no reason to be invested in that job as a career option, new part timers will be a large tunrover problem costing the company an enormous amount of money in training over time and they will not care to provide the service the stores shoppers have come to rely on.
What will that do to the quality of the product or services you receive when you go shopping FOR YOUR FOOD?
This is a BAD BUSINESS move!!! These are small communities. People talk. People can and do drive pretty far to get to anything anyway. Groceries may not be as captive a market as it used to and a person in a small community could very well get angry because their sister lost her job and/or no longer has healthcare for her kids and as THAT one story travels, people could decide to stop shopping there...
The workers need to hold strong on this one!!! Watch for updates and potential ways to help as I come across them.
Union representing Piggly Wiggly workers slams incoming owner over proposed benefit cuts
By Eric Litke
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
The union representing Piggly Wiggly workers said today the incoming owner of the grocery chain wants to eliminate all health-care benefits, vacation time and other leave for part-time workers.
“We were blindsided by the proposal based on the rosy outlook that was portrayed by the company in The Sheboygan Press,” said John Eiden, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1473.
He added that the union prefers not to negotiate in the press but couldn’t stand silent given the content of the offer.
Paul Butera, who has served as CEO of Piggly Wiggly parent Fresh Brands for the last year, announced earlier this week his plans to purchase Fresh Brands from Certified Grocers Midwest for an undisclosed price. He pledged to add local jobs by using the local distributing center to distribute food for his 10-store grocery chain in Illinois.
“The main thing is that nothing will change in Sheboygan,” Butera said Tuesday. “If anything we’re going to bring more (jobs) in.”
But Eiden said an offer made today — Butera’s first after the union had negotiated with Certified since March 2006 — directly contradicts such statements, “callously tossing hard-working middle-class employees under the bus.”
“It’s a classic case of saying one thing to the media and doing another thing behind closed doors,” Eiden said in a press release. “If this is the way they are going to treat employees, we can only imagine what they’ll do to customers.”
Eiden said the union is working to formulate a counterproposal, which it will present to Butera’s representatives at a meeting next Thursday. Butera’s purchase is expected to close Oct. 15.
Eiden said the current proposal would affect all employees working less than 38 hours per week at the 11 corporate-owned Piggly Wiggly stores in the state, including locations in Sheboygan, Appleton, Menasha, Oshkosh, Racine and Kenosha.
The union represents more than 900 full-time and part-time workers at those stores, he said. In all, Fresh Brands employs 2,800 people, 750 of them in Sheboygan at two Piggly Wiggly stores and two distribution centers.
Currently, all employees accrue vacation and other leave time equally, with the only difference in benefits being that full-time employees are eligible for dependant health coverage, while part-time workers can receive single coverage only, Eiden said.
The current contracts vary by store, and in some cases are expired but being negotiated by the union and the company, said Gary Suokko, chief operating officer of Fresh Brands.
Suokko acknowledged the company “did ask for relief in health-care costs” for part-time workers but otherwise declined to comment on specifics.
“I don’t want to go back and forth on every little thing here,” he said. “We just prefer to negotiate in formal negotiations.”
Suokko said he is confident Butera will be able to reach a successful agreement with the union, as he did with the teamsters’ union representing Fresh Brands’ warehouse workers. That union reached a three-year agreement in June, Suokko said.
Eiden said Fresh Brands under previous ownership had an excellent record of providing health insurance and pensions for workers.