12/31/07

UFCW's out-of-date baby formula play

The Bashas' chain of supermarkets is suing the United Food & Commercial Workers union and a group called Hungry for Respect for defamation and claiming the groups attempted to interfere with the company's operations.

The suit was filed Dec. 18 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The UFCW was not suprised by the lawsuit said spokeswoman Katy Giglio, who contends it is Bashas' that is doing the strong-arming of their employees with the lawsuit.

"This is an attempt to silence the community and their employees instead of working with them to create better stores," Giglio said. In addition to Bashas', the Chandler-based chain's store brands include Food City, AJ's Fine Foods and Ike's Farmers' Markets.

All but eight of the chain's 166 operating stores are non-union. The UFCW has been trying since 2001 to get itself into the stores.

In June, the group called Hungry for Respect and the union claimed it found 683 cans of out-of-date baby food on shelves at Bashas' stores. The supermarket chain says it believes the outdated food was intentionally placed on shelves and that in some cases the food was of brands Bashas' stores don't carry. The union denies it planted the baby food.

A UFCW local in the San Francisco Bay Area also found out-of-date baby food a a non-union grocery store in Oakland it is trying represent.

In Arizona, both Bashas' and the UFCW insist they will continue to push the issue.

"We will continue working with consumers, the community and Bashas' workers to let their voices be heard," said Giglio. "This lawsuit will not and cannot bury the truth."

Bashas' President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Proulx says the truth for the UFCW is not founded.

"It's unfortunate that the UFCW is using millions of dollars from members' dues - collected from unionized employees and employers throughout the country - to fund this unethical campaign," Proulx said. "We will defend our company from the lies, the wrongdoing, and the slick, negative campaigning. We owe it to our family of employees to stand up for the truth and what's right."

(vailsun.com)

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