Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

AFL-CIO Oops Moment

WinCo1The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union rejoined the AFL-CIO last week after an 8-year relationship with the Change to Win alliance. The organizations originally parted over disagreements in political spending, but it looks like some new disagreements are surfacing only a few days after their reunion.

In an effort to bash their competitor Wal-Mart, the AFL-CIO recently championed WinCo as an employee-owned company with higher wages and superior employee benefits. But apparently no one at the AFL-CIO asked the UFCW what they thought of WinCo. In the blog post, the AFL-CIO profiles the company:

WinCo is an employee-owned grocery store chain that is nearing 100 stores and almost 15,000 employees. The higher wages and benefits have led to low turnover–the average hourly worker stays with the company more than eight years–which has led to better employee performance and customer satisfaction.

They continue:

According to the Idaho Statesman, the company doesn’t use distributors, rather using its own trucks to get goods in bulk, achieving a 10% to 50% discount. Customers also bag their own groceries, cutting down on personnel costs.

However, much to our amusement, WinCo stores are non-union shops. Workers have refrained from joining a union (like the UFCW) for fear of losing WinCo’s pension program.

In fact, the UFCW has repeatedly failed in attempts to organize WinCo’s 100 grocery stores, going to so far as to impede store openings through frivolous lawsuits over food expiration dates. Even though employees are already stockholders in the business, the UFCW accuses the company’s employees’ compensation packages constituted a “union in name only” (read: a group not willing to be intimidated by the UFCW). The UFCW’s disdain for WinCo’s arrangement goes further. According to a UFCW local president:

The company has moved actively to suppress the organizing efforts of legitimate unions such as the UFCW and ILWU and denies its employees the fair wages and affordable health care benefits that come with a collectively-bargained union contract.

So while the AFL-CIO praised WinCo for higher wages and benefits, the UFCW claims that the same WinCo employees are denied fair wages. Could it be that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Or have unions decided they will only describe someone’s wages as fair if they pay union dues?

Apparently it is the latter, because the AFL-CIO article praising WinCo has been removed from their website.

Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union FactsChange To WinUFCW