“We can grow together or we can wither away together,” Schnuck Markets Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said, in a candid and thought-provoking challenge to every union leader, member and family at the St. Louis Port Council’s recent awards dinner.
“If you want to protect good union jobs… membership and their families (need to) support St. Louis union retail employers,” Schnuck said. “Let them know that if they think their own union jobs, wages and benefits matter, then those of their union brethren in the food industry matter as well, and they should support those higher wages and better benefits.”
Schnuck was being honored as the Port Council’s Management Man of the Year. David Cook, president of UFCW Local 655 was honored as the Council’s Dick Mantia Labor Man of the Year and Steve Stenger as the Council’s Able Helmsman.
Schnuck noted that he and Cook – his union counterpart – don’t just talk every three years at contract time, but do so on a regular basis because, “…if you want something to work, you have to work at it. We sit with Dave Cook and his team and we talk about the realities of our business. Dave, in turn, talks about his issues.”
One of those key issues that Cook discusses all the time with his members and often at labor gatherings, is that in order to win better contracts, they have to bring the growing non-union food sector into the union family.
And as importantly, that union members need to be shopping at the union grocery chains — Schnucks, Dierbergs, Shop ‘n Save, Straubs, etc..
Noting that the union grocers pay higher wages and provide benefits to their employees, Schnuck pointed out the “invasion of what we call the supernaturals…like Aldi and Rulers — all non-union operators like our friends from Bentonville Arkansas (Walmart). There are more non-union competitors coming every day.”
To make his point about non-union competition, Schnuck noted that Schnucks is working on a “sizeable construction project (a massive new warehouse). They put the project out for bid to both a union and a non-union contractor. The latter came in $900,000 under the union bid.
Schnuck said his company will likely go with the higher union bid because “it’s the right thing to do… and it will work better.” He challenged union families to do the same — shop at the union grocers in order to protect good-paying union jobs.
“Why is it ok for us to pay $900,000 more to support union wages and benefits while, at the same time, your members are shopping at our non-union competition?” Schnuck asked.
“If your own union wages and benefits matter to you, then you should be supporting other union retailers,” Schnuck said to rousing applause and a standing ovation.
“Let’s do what we each can do to build good union jobs.”
Shopping union is critical, and the right thing to do
By DAVID COOK
UFCW Local 655
In his comments to the Port Council guests, Schnucks CEO Todd Schnuck made a powerful, candid plea to us all, one that I hope all union families will consider and respond to.
He didn’t mince his words, and they were right on target.
If we don’t look out for one another, pretty soon union wages and benefits in ALL industries will be gone. It’s vital for union members to support our union grocers. That will help us dramatically as we work to bring union wages and benefits to the non-union food industry.
If we ignore this, then the food industry will be serving as the forerunner of what can happen to everyone who enjoys union wages and benefits today.
And let’s not kid ourselves, this is happening every day. You only have to go onto the parking lot of a major non-union retailer and you’ll find plenty of union logo bumper stickers. For union families, shopping at a union retailer is the RIGHT THING TO DO.
And that goes for every sector of our economy — if there’s a union repair shop, if there’s a union home repair company, if there’s a union company in whatever service you might need, it’s vital that we support our own.
“We can grow together or we can wither away together,’ Mr. Schnuck said.
He was right on target. [/box]