Kirkwood, MO – United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) leaders were justifiably outraged when their members who work at Shop ’n Save stores were not notified of parent company Supervalu’s sale to United Natural Foods before it hit the news July 26.
Supervalu, which owns 3,000 stores nationally, has been seeking a buyer for Kirkwood-based Shop ’n Save since April. Shop ‘n Save currently lists 39 stores, mostly in the St. Louis region.
UFCW local presidents David Cook (Local 655), Ron Powell (Local 881) and Dan Telle (Local 88), representing some 3,300 Shop ’n Save employees, issued a joint statement after the news broke.
“It’s outrageous that the hard-working men and women at Shop ’n Save had to learn of this development on the news,” they said. “In their callousness, Supervalu did not feel the need to inform their employees or the union which represents these men and women and negotiates good wages and benefits.
“Right now, our number one concern is our union brothers and sisters working at Shop ’n Save in Missouri and Illinois. We want to make it clear, in the coming days we intend to fight to preserve our good union jobs, wages, and benefits won through collective bargaining for our thousands of hard-working union men and women working at Shop ’n Save.
“At this time, it’s important that everyone understand that the union contracts providing wages, healthcare and pensions remain in full effect,” they stressed.
Local 655 represents some 2,000 Shop ’n Save employees in Missouri; Local 881 represents 700 employees in Illinois; and Local 88 represents 600 employees in Missouri.
WHOLE FOODS SUPPLIER
United Natural Foods, based in Providence, RI, is a wholesaler that supplies some 43,000 stores including supermarkets and natural food outlets. It is the primary supplier for Amazon.com’s Whole Foods Market, which now provides a third of United Natural Food’s business, so this deal would broaden its customer base.
United is buying Supervalu for $2.9 billion and plans to sell its retail assets. Supervalu had already been trying to sell the Shop ’n Save business. United said it will continue to look for potential buyers. Other Supervalu retail chains include Cub Foods, Hornbachers and Shoppers.
Local 881 Field Director Paul Schaefer told the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor that while members are concerned, nothing is changing immediately.
“Shop ’n Saves are still union today,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll be union tomorrow and the next day and the next day. We’ve got a lot of members who are nervous about what’s going to happen.
“We will be working with this new entity to try to make sure that these remain union stores.”