Multiple efforts by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 to convince Dierbergs Markets to open their upcoming Lake of the Ozarks store with a union contract have not yet been successful. As a result, the St. Louis Labor Council unanimously passed a resolution pledging the cooperation of the entire labor movement for any and all efforts by Local 655 to help Dierbergs understand that opening a non-union store at the Lake is a threat to thousands of Local 655 families in the St. Louis region, where Local 655 has the major grocery chains organized.
DIERBERGS’ DESTROYING RELATIONSHIP?
“Dierbergs appears intent on destroying a partnership that’s been in place between our union and the local food industry for decades. A partnership that has worked together to help the union grocery chains compete with the Walmarts of the world. It appears that Dierbergs now feels a partnership is fine when it benefits them, but not needed when it comes to benefitting Local 655’s members. Local 655 President David Cook told the executive board members of the council, which includes 27 leaders of the largest and unions in the region.
While the Lake store will be several hundred miles away, Cook made the point that similar situations have popped up in isolated instances across the nation, where union chains decided to become “double-breasted,” to operate union and non-union stores. When that happens, the union stores begin a steady decline as the company puts its resources and energy into its non-union operations. “That creates a serious threat to thousand of our members and their families,” Cook said.
The Council’s executive board and Teamsters Local 688, which represents the Lake area, agreed and pledged their total support for any effort that Local 655 ultimately feels is necessary to help re-instate a two-way relationship with Dierbergs.
Cook made it clear that Local 655 is NOT calling for a boycott. However, he is asking union members and their families to help them take the message to Dierbergs management that this is not an acceptable situation. How? See box adjacent to this story for five ways to reach Dierbergs management.
STRONG TEAMSTER SUPPORT
Teamsters Local 688 Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mike Goebel wrote Bob Dierberg a letter explaining that his union would completely support Local 655. He never even received a reply.
“Quite honestly, I am shocked to hear that those are you plans,” Goebel wrote, reminding Dierberg that his union also has a joint Labor-Management Committee working with the company “to promote your company against the non-union Walmarts and other substandard wage/benefit employers of the world.”
Goebel added that if Dierbergs persists in its non-union effort at the Lake, he will “strongly recommend” that the more than 50 Teamster families living in Camdenton that shop year round “shop elsewhere,” and that they encourage all their neighbors and friends to do the same, Goebel told the Labor Tribune.
PARTNERSHIP TO HELP UNION STORES
Cook pointed out that over the years, Local 655 has cooperated with the local chains to help keep them competitive and profitable. “If it benefits them, it ultimately benefits our members, and we want them to succeed,” he stressed.
To make that possible, Local 655 members have over the years:
- Agreed to wage modifications and other concessions to meet non-union challenges.
- Supported work rule changes to allow stores more flexibility with outside vendors.
- Joined together with the three major food chains in a labor-management working group eight years ago – The Joint Labor Management Committee – to fight for positive legislation in Jefferson City to stop giving giant companies like Walmart taxpayers’ money to build stores that compete unfairly with our companies.
- Agreed to Sunday as a normal workday, for new employees, in response to the trend in retail.
- Spent substantial manpower and financial resources in a number of site fights against Walmart’s incursion into the metro area to protect the local supermarkets’ market share.
“The sad part of this is that this non-union direction flies right in the face of the cooperative efforts Local 655 members have made over the years to help our union companies,” Cook stressed.
“Partnership is a two-way street; Dierbergs wants to make it a one-way street…all from us to them and to heck with our members and their union,” Cook said.
“I hope to continue dialogue with Dierbergs, and I am asking all union families to take this message to Dierbergs store directors every time they shop, so that the company understands that this is important to their customers as well.
“I believe that without the Dierberg family hearing from the labor community there is no hope for a positive resolve,” he added. “I am asking the entire labor community to contact Dierbergs to let them know this is not acceptable.”
Here’s how you can help take the union message to Dierbergs
Here’s five ways you can help send a message to Dierbergs Markets that opening non-union at the Lake of the Ozarks does not sit well with their customers:
- In person: when shopping at Dierbergs, ask for the Store Director or person in charge and express your displeasure that Dierbergs is opening non-union at the Lake of the Ozarks. If you have a place at the Lake, let them know you will not be shopping there if it is not union.
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob Dierberg’s assistant who handles his emails).
- Mail: letters or notes to Bob Dierberg, Dierbergs Markets, Inc., 16690 Swingley Ridge Road, Chesterfield, MO 63017.
- Telephone: Customer Service: 636-532-8884 (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
- Website: www.Dierbergs.com. At the bottom of the page in the green bar, under “Contact Us” will take you to a comment box.
UFCW 655 offered special pact for Dierbergs’ Lake Ozark store
In an effort to keep Dierbergs’ competitive with the non-union competition at the Lake of the Ozarks, UFCW Local 655 has made an incredible offer: to negotiate a special contract for that store that allows them to compete.
Local 655 President David Cook told the Labor Council’s executive board that Local 655 realizes there are no other union stores at the Lake at this time. As a PARTNER the union offered to negotiate a totally different contract for that store, which the union has already done with Schnucks Markets’ successful operations in Columbia and Jefferson City.
A contract that would keep the Dierbergs Lake store competitive, but which Dierbergs flatly refused.
“In several meetings with Dierbergs management, they made it clear that having a union contract in St. Louis is a ‘burden’ to them. This clearly shows a change of attitude and does not bode well for the future,” Cook stressed.
We hope that they will re-consider this position if their customers express their displeasure, Cook stressed, asking all union families that shop at Dierbergs to take a series of actions noted in the story above.