Retail

Grocery Workers Union Say Wegmans is Exacerbating Tale of Two Cities

June 22, 2015
By Marc Bussanich 

Brooklyn, NY—In May the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation announced that the grocery supermarket chain Wegmans would be an anchor tenant along Admiral’s Row at the Navy Yard. In response the New York grocery workers union said that decision would lower standards for unionized grocers in Brooklyn and thereby exacerbate the Tale of Two Cities. 

In an interview on Monday, Brendan Sexton, a political coordinator for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, said that the union was very disappointed that the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation overlooked unionized grocers in favor of a non-union shop.

“It is exacerbating the tale of two cities by bringing in a non-union employer in the Yard that will not create a path to the middle class. In retail organizing, oftentimes companies violate the law at will and just get slaps on wrist. Any fines incurred are really just the cost of doing business. Considering that multiple union-employers were bidding in the final stages for the Brooklyn Navy Yard development project but didn’t get it is a real concern for us about [the worsening] of New York’s tale of two cities,” said Sexton.

Given that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign focused on lowering income inequality by evoking Charles Dickens’ seminal work, the union is disappointed that the administration didn’t allow for a labor peace agreement to be introduced into the negotiations between the BNYDC and Wegmans.

“We really want to have labor peace. We’d like to see Wegmans come to the table and sign onto a labor peace agreement to ensure that the workers have the right to voice their opinion one way or the other. We would have hoped that the [BNYDC] or the administration would have had a labor peace agreement placed into the contract with Wegmans before giving them a green light to locate in the Navy Yard,” Sexton said.

According to Sexton, Wegmans has said that it will employ over 200 workers at the Yard. Currently, the union doesn’t represent workers in any of Wegmans 85 retail stores in six states, although the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents workers in Wegmans’ warehouse and distribution centers.   

When asked if the union will launch an organizing drive at the Yard, Sexton said yes but also said that retail organizing in the industry currently benefits employers, not workers.

“Employers willfully violate laws and intimidate workers without any repercussions. If there are any repercussions, it’s a factored-in cost for the employer that they’d rather incur than negotiate with the workers on conditions. Wegmans is going to lower the standards for unionized supermarkets throughout Brooklyn and the city. We want to make sure that workers at Wegmans are brought up to the level of unionized supermarkets throughout the city,” Sexton said. 

June 22, 2015

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Grocery Workers Union Say Wegmans is Exacerbating Tale of Two Cities”

  1. Abner says:

    I agree. Management talks down to the employees,assigns multiple jobs that you couldn’t possibly finish in a day and they play by their rules,favoritism. Tells the worker to deep clean,so maintenance is your job too. They tell you daily that your deptcan assign you any job they like because you are an employee of that Dept. So if you are hired as a cashier you can end up as the store butcher…LIKE IT OR NOT! NJ NORTHERN NJ STORE WEGMANS

    • W says:

      Thank you for sharing, I could say the same about the Landover story as well. Why doesn’t Wegmans have a Union for their employee? Is it because of young adults/teenagers who don’t know their rights .

  2. Michael says:

    Interested in speaking to the grocery workers Union

  3. Renee Deesing says:

    I was employed by Wegmans distribution center In Pottsville Pa worked there for 13 years . They knew I had a Mental Illness Bipolar disorder Anxiety Depression . One day I came in to hand my Doctors note to be off go FMLA and the wharehouse Manager put me through Metal Detector no reason but to show his Authority. I was not on Disaplanary action it caused me a breakdown . Nothing done to him . Is that how you treat your people. I told Boss from Rochester I was Fired . Help. Renee Deesing

  4. Alex Edwards says:

    Why is Wegmans consistently rated as one of the top companies to work for? Every big company has employees who are unhappy and bosses who are jerks, union or non union. What are the wage differences between non union Wegmans and a union grocery store in the same area? Is it really a tale of two cities? I think you need more data to make that argument.

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