To keep boycotters from their front door, Schnucks will punish thousands counting on shopper donations
By ED FINKELSTEIN
In yet another act of retaliation against Teamsters Local 688 for their audacity to boycott them, Schnucks has announced it will no longer allow the Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts and Salvation Army, among many others, to solicit in front of their stores.
In what has to be one of the worst public relations gaffes of all time, the decision was made to thwart efforts by Local 688 to stand in front of their stores to advertise their boycott. Apparently they no longer want to be known as “The Friendliest Stores in Town.”
The decision comes just ahead of the Sept. 7 trial before an Administrative Law Judge of the National Labor Relations Board in which the Teamsters charge Schnucks with rank discrimination: they allow all kinds of groups to take their issues to the public in front of their stores but won’t allow the same freedom of speech to the Teamsters!
Two weeks ago, St. Louis city police would not force Teamsters handbillers to move from the front of a city Schnucks, something that has become pro forma in the county when the store manager complains and police show up. The city police are respecting a ruling by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch saying that if the NLRB allows an unfair labor practice charge like the one filed by Local 688 to go to trial, until a decision is rendered the handbillers have the same rights to be at Schnucks front door as other non-profit groups.
“Obviously Schnucks feels they will lose the trial so they are going to punish everyone in yet another immature act of retribution, but this time they are hurting tens of thousands of people who rely on their volunteers collecting charity funds at the Schnuck stores,” said Local 688 Chief Executive Officer Mike Goebel.
“They are only alienating more shoppers who will have another strong reason to join our boycott,” Goebel added. “I can’t begin to imagine who, or why, this incredibly insensitive decision was made simply to stop us from having the same rights.”
In an effort to disguise their outright callousness towards their customers with this irrational act, Schnucks issued an interesting excuse: it’s doing this because “…our primary obligation is servicing our customers by providing the most pleasant and convenient shopping environment. Because of this, we have decided to end the solicitation of our customers or distribution of written or other materials at our stores.”
GIRL SCOUTS A NUISANCE?
“Right,” said Goebel. “They are saying that the Girl Scouts selling cookies and the Salvation Army bell ringers are a major nuisance to their customers, so it’s better for the customers ‘shopping experience’ not to have to walk past a ‘phalanx’ of three or four 13-year old girls selling delicious cookies. I guess that will impact their own cookie sales?
“Give me a break,” he told the Labor Tribune.
Neither the Girl Scouts or The Salvation Army responded to requests for their reactions.
The Schnucks boycott is in response to the company preparing to fire some 231 veteran warehouse employees, many with 30 and 40 years with the company, and replace them with low-paying jobs at their new warehouse in North County.
The boycott is having a major financial impact on the company’s bottom line. Many stores have lost 25 percent or more of their business since the boycott began, running into the tens of millions of dollars.