Monday, May 22, 2006

Union Organizers Arrested at Basha's.

I just now got this in my mailbox:

This press release was sent out this afternoon.

Mike Vespoli
UFCW Local 99
2401 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ. 85004
602-251-0418


Two women ordered arrested by Bashas

Dozens of workers picket Basha-owned A.J.s over "broken health insurance promise."

(May 21, 2006 Phoenix, AZ) Two women were arrested Sunday morning as part of the Bashas corporation ongoing effort to silence worker concern over unprecedented increases in health insurance premiums.

The two women, Sarah Gresoski, 23, and Teresa D¹Asaro, 39, both members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, were meeting with employees at the Basha-owned A.J.s at Uptown Plaza in Phoenix. Such meetings are allowed and protected under federal law.

The A.J.¹s store manager made a "citizens arrest" of the two women apparently after consultation with unnamed company officials. Phoenix Police Officers then were called to take the women into custody and charged them with "criminal trespassing."

Following the arrests upwards of 60 employees and union members launched a picket line in front of the A.J.s store....

For the past three days UFCW members have been meeting with employees at Bashas-owned stores across the Valley including Bashas, A.J.s, and FoodCity....


This is disappointing to me personally. Eddie Basha has always been a friend to the Democratic party of Arizona, but clearly either he is no longer in charge or he has gone from simply running a non-union store to active union busting. I believe that the right of workers to organize in collective bargaining units is a fundamental right that every employee in America should have, whether it is exercised or not.

Until and unless I hear that this situation has been resolved, I will limit my shopping to stores other than Basha's (even though in Winslow, I have a choice of Basha's, Safeway or Wal-Mart to shop at for groceries, and I'm already boycotting Wal-Mart.)

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's cell-phone video of what took place on Sunday. Check it out at:
www.ifilms.tv/ufcw

union guy said...

Wow. Unions are one of the core constituencies of the Democratic Party. I hope the party thinks long and hard about being associated with a union buster.

shrimplate said...

Damn. I thought the Basha family was OK.

If they bust unions, I'm going to Sprouts. Period, end of story, more for me to bitch about on my own little blog.

I'm only one in a million. But I COUNT.

shrimplate said...

Double damn. That's my AJ's. I stop there after work every week for a Dog Fish Head and a few snacks.

My little one likes to lunch on salmon there. Some weekdays we meet my spouse there also for lunch.

But if they are arresting union people then I will never go there again. I will be picketing myself.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across this blog today. I don't even know if you check this or anything anymore, but I wanted to say a few things. As along time employee of the Bashas' family of stores, I think that you may not be getting all of the correct information. As for the "unprecedented increase" for health insurance...the health insurance used to be a free benefit for us. In June they began deducting 10.00 a week from pay checks. If you had 1 dependent it's 20.00, 3 or more is only 30.00 per week. How many other companies can offer medical, dental and eye glass coverage for a family of 5 for 30.00 a week??? I in now way think that constitutes as a "unprecedented" increase.

As for the union reps going to the stores and being arrested, they themselves are not following the "rules". They are not to speak with members who are on the clock but may speak with ones on break or lunch. These people are disrupting work activities and taking away from customers when they engage in a conversation with members. I have never been told not to speak with a union rep just that it wasn't possible to do while working, as it should be. We can't stand there and talk to our friends while we are working so what's all the fuss over not being able to talk to union organizer's while clocked in and working?
There are many other benefits the company offers. One such benefit is member to member. This progam helps members who have a financial hardship by giving them money to help them with the situtaion. If they have fallen behind on, for example, the electric bill and it is about to be turned off, they may recieve help from the member to member assistance program. Ohter benefits include... paid vacations, paid sick time, bereavement pay, stop smoking programs, tuiton re-imbursment, just to name a few. I am not saying nor do I know if these are available with all companies, but I haved worked with many people who have come from competitor stores and they say there are no such programs there. One woman inparticular comes to mind. She had worked for ABCO and went it went under, she lost everything. She was there 25+ years and lost her retirement and other benefits. The severence package was 3 weeks worth of pay to all employee's. Whether they had been there for 5 years or 25 years. As you may or may not know, ABCO was a union company. In her words, " where was the union when she needed them most?" All those years of dues an for what?

I worked for a different grocery chain before Bashas and I paid union dues. And when it came time for me to need them, I was told " sorry, nothing we can do." And no, I wasn't fired but had a manager who was harrassing me. Nothing was done at store level so I called my union rep. And surprise! nothing was done. I can only speak of my personal experience in saying I would nver deal with union again and I am glad that Bashas' is not part of that greedy ,2 faced lying organization.

I am treated very well at a company that really does care for it's members more than anyone who is not part of the Bashas' family can ever understand. In my opinion ( and just for the record, everything I said is just that, MY opinion) I am a member of the best grocery chain in this state!

Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion.

Anonymous said...

You guys are trying to make Basas look bad but I personally think that's the best company to work for. They really appreciate their members

Eli Blake said...

anonymous:

Where have I questioned Basha's past support of employees, working conditions or wages? I will even concede that the wages there and working conditions are not much different than they are at unionized Supermarkets like Safeway.

I view them as somewhat of a benign dictatorship. Certainly they are much better to work for than a company that openly shafts its workers (i.e. WalMart).

However, a dictatorship, however benign, is still a dictatorship. If Basha's were to undergo a change in management at some point (and grocery store chains can be sold) then someone else would be in charge and might make much different decisions.

Given that there are some employees at Basha's who want to have a legally recognized voice through collective bargaining (and there are some) what is wrong with having an election to see whether they are a majority or not? If a majority of employees feel that the currnt system is better then a vote to unionize would fail. So what is Basha's so afraid of?

Anonymous said...

I have worked for the Bashas' Family of Stores for 20 years. I started out as a courtesy clerk and worked my way up to an administrative position. Bashas' has always been good to me, then again I am a harding working person who does my job with pride. If I was a loser slacker who could care less then I guess the union would be the place for me to look. Arizona is a right to work state and the unions have no business being here. As far as I am concerned they are a "legalized" mafia!!! They take, take and take and give nothing back. The handful of Bashas' members that are looking to organize a union should go and work for a union store and really see what the union has to offer. They would be back at our company begging for their jobs back and you know what Bashas' would take them back because that is how our company runs, we over see peoples faults and give them second and third (or more) chances. I say Unions stay away you may have the upperhand on the East Coast but Arizona and the Bashas' Family of Stores don't need you. We have been operating 75 years without you and we have done just fine.

jothon1 said...

I have been in the grocery industry for over 10 years. I've worked for Fry's and Safeway. Now that I work for Bashas, I would never go back to work for ether one. Over the years I have seen what goes on at these "union" shops. I have also seen the FINE representation, or if I may say lack of representation by the union. Teresa was my rep in the east valley. I have witnessed how she handled a sexual harassment claim at a Safeway store involving my fiance. She set up a meeting with the store director and the assistant manager, who was the person named the the claim. Teresa showed up 2 hours late first of all. This meeting took just over an hour before my fiance was called into the office. when she sat down she was imideatly handed a bogus write-up to sing dated some 3 weeks back. She asked Teresa what was going on. Teresa told her to just sing the write-up and everything would be settled. She was obviously shocked and humiliated by what she was told. She stormed out of the office in tears. I asked her what happened and she didn't want to say anything. Needless to say that was the last time she set foot in that store. What funny about this is that 2 months later the assistant was fired for sexual harassment against another female employee. This is not the only time UFCW, and Teresa has dropped the ball. For those of you thinking about joining the union, look at how much the top pay has dropped. I no longer have any faith in the union.

Anonymous said...

"Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion."

"what's all the fuss over not being able to talk to union organizer's while clocked in and working?" answer : It's different. It's the law, your employer cannot stop it, cannot punish you. Period. Oh yes they would like to deny people their rights to organize, but even in Ariz.they can't.
I'm glad to see some are toeing the company line, we're all "family". Bull.
Read what they National Labor Relations Board has to say about Basha's contempt for the workers at the 9 union stores they bought. They were ordered to bargin with those workers, Basha"s say's nope we don't have to. They were ordered to...they refuse. That is an idea how far they will go to bust unions.
Personally, I don't shop there just because of their anti union tactics.

Anonymous said...

Some of you, have no idea what you are talking about! Yes the union can talk to Bashas members. But the union, is not allowed to talk members at work. Also, if a business asks you to leave, you must leave. If not, you are trespassing. Theres nothing wrong with the manager at the AJ's not wanting them there. If you ran a business, would you want a competitor in your establishment tryin to snake your employees away? If you say you wouldn't mind, your full of it! And some of you are just hardcore union, union in general. You obviously know nothing about the UFCW. Arizona grocery stores used to be over 40% union, that number has dropped to 7%! No wonder they gave the AZ UFCW ten million for a campaign to go after Bashas alone! The UFCW strike in CA destroyed the well being of grocery workers all around. Those people were out of work for over six months! Some of them lost everything. A lot of them came here to AZ. Every union guy I have worked with says they don't do anything for you. The only ones they help are the drunks that call in all the time, the degenerates. Ex-union workers all say, they are much happier to be free from the union.

Anonymous said...

American workers should believe in freedom of choice? Americans seem to talk about freedom without knowing what it really means. Unions make a difference, why is corperate America so against its employees being Union Members? Think about it, ask yourself why?
Why are working American wages and benefits not keeping up to the top 10 percent wage earners? Corperate non-union America is not doing its job to treat its "family, associates" to a fair standard. Wake up American Workers and fight for what is yours!

Anonymous said...

actually no it was illegal for those union organizers to be talking to the employees at bashas grocery stores. according to arizona state law that is called soliciting. if they contact them at their homes however thats not illegal but the employees have the right to ask them to leave. and most of the bashas employees do not want to be unionized. myself included.

Anonymous said...

I used to think Bashas was great and that the union was just a refuge for the lazy man. We have a couple union workers at our store who aren't necessarily the hardest workers and who leave exactly when their shift ends and don't even have the slightest compassion for fellow employees who have to stay behind to clean up what mess they've left.

I'm not a lazy man. I've always worked my butt off. Since I've transferred to a bigger city however I've felt nothing but unappreciated. The new management in our store are slave drivers. I have a whole backroom and loading dock to clean by myself and I always keep it looking good and always receive compliments on it. Our new manager doesn't seem to think so. They said '...nightcrew's doing their job, you need to do yours.' Excuse me?! When I asked how I've been leaving it to earn such a cold, unwarranted and utterly heartless remark, they said, 'you need to sweep before you go home (which I do CONSTANTLY throughout the day and ALWAYS before I leave) and shut the lids of the dumpsters (which I also do everyday per Health Dept. code).' That's all they could say. They're obviously just using intimidation and trying to assert their dominance.

Another example just happened the other day. I was told to increase the bread order on the first two weeks of the month because it seemed we kept running out. I don't stock the bread... how am I supposed to know exactly what we sell? Or even what fills the shelf? 'It looks like we're going out of business out there. You need to make sure we don't run out. Consider this a bit of a warning.' Like adding 'a bit of' took away from the fact that they were saying 'or else'. When I asked to have the responsibility of ordering the bread taken from me, since it is not I who stocks it, and thus unfair (in my eyes) for me to be punished for ordering incorrectly I was told, 'Uh uh. Where I come from receivers order bread. You can't just do one thing.' ...One thing? I could list all I do right now but it would be pointless. Let me tell you it's NOT just one single fucking thing! I've never been insulted so much by anybody I've ever worked with and that is the OVERWHELMING constituency at our store since they've arrived.

I have always taken pride in my work and done my job to the best of my abilities without a cross word, and until I started working for this company, I was rewarded for it. Now it appears they see an asset they can exploit.

You can't reach out for help because there's no help to reach out to.

This whole statement may seem childish or perhaps you think I must be exaggerating. I don't care. I speak the truth. I feel sick to my stomach to come to work; living in constant fear of losing my job at any moment; for any reason they see fit. I've never been so depressed.

Greggbert said...

I think it's sad that Bashas says the workers don't need a union and then they lay off hundreds with NO severance pay. They say one thing and then prove themselves wrong the very next day.