What's this Blog About?

Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Monday, October 08, 2007

"The Pig" Tries to Undermine the Union... More Benefit Cuts...

This is one of those Union Busting tactics that destroys a small community's stability:

  1. First they sell the company or change management.
  2. Then they promise the community that they will provide MORE jobs.
  3. Then they cut benefits to part time workers.
  4. 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.


Anonymous said...

I've worked for Certified Grocers Midwest for 29 years.

We couldn't be happier to be losing PB. Our business has done much better when he keeps his hands off.

Pig employees and feanchisers beware.

Anonymous said...

Paul B want's to shut down Sheboygan and move operations south in 2008

bet on 09 but still..........

does anyone read this?

I have info

Anonymous said...

I am a pig employee She hit the nail on the head with this there is all kind of new rules that are being enforced in an attempt to get rid of Long time employees. Also customer service is suffering due to new policies

Anonymous said...

The new owner Paul Butera has a wife and a girlfriend, his girlfriend is pretty much running the company, with values like that, how else do you think he will treat the long time dedicated employees of Piggly Wiggly !!

Anonymous said...

Paul Butera family has already taken shift pay, no vacations the last 6 weeks of the year, and the weeks of holidays,no overtime (meaning if you work sunday they give you off a weekday, which means a reduction in pay). They are trying to take away all benefits to all employees working less than 38 hour's a week. These examples are only a few of the new rules being handed down to the long time employees of Piggly Wiggly. The CO Gary Suokko and all the managers are acting as the Butera PUPPETS !!

Anonymous said...

Now the Butera Family has attached a letter to all the pay checks of the employees of Piggly Wiggly saying that it's the fault of the Union that they are working under a expired contract. At the same time starting march 1st. there will no longer be time and a half paid for working Sunday's even if it in the contract. Maybe Mr. Paul Butera wouldn't be so hard pressed for Money if he didn't have to support a wife and a girlfriend !!

Anonymous said...

They keep crying that they are not making any money and don't want cut the Healthcare but they just put up a notice for an assistant for the each Department head. Also Piggly Wiggly is going to start charging 8.50 for an 8.20 book of stamps. What great customer service!

Anonymous said...

There has been no positive changes made by Paul Butera. He came in to this bussiness just "for fun" (his words not mine,i have a very personal relationship with someone who has worked for the pig for 30 years)thats all well and good for him but there are people that have to take this bussiness seriously. I know half the staff at the location where my close friend works and evryone is on edge. They go to work dreading what changes will be made today. These people have been loyal to the company for years, they have families who depend on their income. The thanks Mr Butera gives them is telling them that they are all theives stealing from the company!!! To make matters worse he has also bashed customes making race related comments in a recent speech. Not only that but comments were also made that were extreamely sexist. I guess we shouldnt be surprized at that though, after all it comes from a man with a wife AND a girlfriend. I just cant wait for his demise, I have no doubt that it will happen, its has to the older more reliable employees are all going to be weeded out and theyre going to hire a bunch of inexperienced people causing customer satifacton to go down dramatically.

and to the guy who has info who wrote on 12/25 i think we all are interesten in your info!!!

Anonymous said...

The Butera family is trying to bust the spirit and morale by making customer service impossible. I work at one of the Pig stores and People are getting written up for accepting returns on Defective perishable items that are bad. Customers need to make complaints to the corporate office in Sheboygan and demand better service

Anonymous said...

I work for Certified Grocers and I feel for all the employees of Piggly Wiggly,Dicks and Fresh Brands.......PB has been a union buster for a long time and he will not stop until he succeeds.In the meantime he is driving the biz away..Certified is in shambles because of him.They sold the property and now they have no money to give back to his own store owners that put up money to buy in to Fresh Brands.So he screws his own kind too.His day will come.......All unions should strike his stores and all Certified Stores along with the Fresh Brands store and see where it leaves him..We should all ban together and be unified in the fight against him..

Calvin said...

i work in the warehouse and can confirm that a new wave of part-time workers, and even Locate-staffing workers have come in.

locate-staffing, that company that treats workers like kleenex, gives them no benefits, and absolutely zero security. those sorts of companies should be illegal.

Anonymous said...

Just an update, its now August 26th, Paul Butera and his Clan are still trying to break the contract, we still do not have a contract, they have started firing people for the stupidest things including Firing a MALE employee for dying his hair from Black to BLONDE! If you work sunday you are required now to have 2 days off during the week and you must fill out paper work for 100% everything you do. There are atleast 50 new overrides in our checkout systems which make the customers wait in line extremely longer! Paul Butera needs to be OUSTED and we need to restore Piggly Wiggly back to its current STATE! Paul Butera is an asshole and is only in this for the money! We need someone to come in and save us!

Anonymous said...

In Menasha The contract will be terminated. effective midnight on Dec 31 Also there are signs in the store Now Hiring for all positions

Anonymous said...

Anymore news what is going on with the appelton store?

Anonymous said...

Kenosha/Racine Stores contract will be terminated starting Febuary 15,2009

Anonymous said...

Is the store in Appleton on strike?

Anonymous said...

New Update!!
Business as Usual
The Employees have to pay there union out of pocket instead of the compnay taking them out there check. I'm not sure if appleton went on strike but there are measures taken to send the Butera Family a Message it is the Employess that he has are the ones that built the business up for him it did not happen over night and if he thinks he can run without the current employees they have something else coming. The Customers spoke out and said they would shop somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for Dicks supermarkets, now Piggly Wiggly for over 20 years and can say that that latest chapter in the PIg saga is the worst. We used to be a team that enjoyed coming to work, doing our jobs,and was treated fairly by our employer..Anyone who has vacation coming had better be ready for a surprise. I had 4 weeks coming and had already taken 2 earlier in the year. I was geting ready to take another week and called Sheboygan to verify my hours left and was told that I had no vacation earned and was 2 weeks in the negative. I didn't work an average of 38 hours in 2008, even though no one seems to know when the new 38 hour mandatory full time policy went into effect. Was not posted. Anyway, I worked all my scheduled hours, was not ill, did not go home early, etc, but did not average enough. Only 37.something. So anything, can happen with these people. By the way don't call Sheboygan for help or answers. They are cluesless. This is something they've been working on since the first of the year and still can't figure it out, and somehow forgot to tell the people it affected the most.So sad that my store had to come to this.

Anonymous said...

Last week I wrote to talk about vacations being cut of you did not average 38 hours in 2008. Little did i know that a week later my health, dental retirement, vision and anything else associated with fulltime would be gone as well. I receeved my letter on the 10th of april, and I know that many others did too. I called Wisconsin Workforce labor dept, and they said that even though we are not union or have a contract, since they changed the fulltime status policy in the middle of the year, they should have required a written notice to the fulltimers telling them of this change and we should have to sign it. If this did not happen(and it didn't) they would have cause to investigate them. Please call you r wisconsin worforce and ask for a wage claim statement and fill it out and mail it back to them. The more people that do the better our chances are of getting at least our vacation back that we lost. Also, keep an eye on your 401ks. About 3 weeks ago one of my coworkers discovered that she had not been getting anything put in her account for about 3-4 weeks.We all checked and we hadn't either. Their answer was a glitch (their favorite answer). Let's try to make them accountable for some of things they are doing to us.

Calvin M said...

that is despicable. hopefully you will be able to unionize too someday.