Haggen laying off dozens of workers, union filing grievances

July 16, 2015

By KAREN VELIE

Haggen, a Washington-based chain of grocery stores that recently purchased 83 new stores in California, has laid off dozens of Central Coast workers in the past few days while other employees were moved from full-time to part-time hours.

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Earlier this year, Haggen bought 146 Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Safeway stores. Employees retained their union contracts and were assured the company would do whatever it took to make the takeover successful.

Haggen Southwest CEO Bill Shaner blames competition from other grocery retailers for Haggen’s failures to retain customers.

“As we introduce Haggen throughout Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, our challenge is to establish and grow the brand in new markets, while transitioning former Albertsons/Vons customers,” Shaner said. “The competitive activity launched in response to our entry into the marketplace – while expected – has been unprecedented.”

However, some former customers said they changed grocery stores after Haggen increased pricing significantly. The customer base has fallen by almost 50 percent in some stores, one clerk said.

Store officials reacted with layoffs and terminations at Central Coast stores in Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Goleta, Lompoc, Santa Barbara and Los Osos. In Paso Robles, Haggen laid off 11 employees and cut the hours of 12 employees.

One employee who has worked in a San Luis Obispo County store since the 1980s, said he was informed over the weekend that his hours would be cut from full to part-time. He questions if the union is doing all it can to protect local Haggen employees.

Local UFCW officials said Haggen is trying to correct pricing issues and bring customers back.

“They assured us they will do whatever it takes to make it successful,” said Kathy Finn, the Local UFCW 770 director of collective bargaining. “They need to get it under control, and not by cutting staff.”

The union has responded to the current layoffs and hourly reductions by examining contracts and in some cases, filing grievances.

“We have already filed several grievances,” Finn said. “There are seniority provisions in place to protect employees. Layoffs and reductions have to be done by seniority.”

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racket

If they are fighting with a union, I feel compelled to give them my business.


BeenThereDoneThat

Went into Haggen’s in Paso the day it opened. I went to the former Vons there all the time. Right off I noticed that a lot of my usual purchases that I make, the items had increased an average of 30-50%. Then I started walking around the store looking at other items and noticed it was the same on a good majority of things. Last time I have been to that store. I like Vaseline first before you bend me over.


HarryMalone

It’s kind of hard to believe that a company that owns hundreds of grocery stores doesn’t all of a sudden seem to know how to run a grocery store.


To me this is an obvious union busting tactic that even may well be in coordination with its competitors.


Perspicacious

They were a tiny chain in the NW, about 18 stores, and suddenly became the owners of about 160 stores. Therein lies the problem.


Perspicacious

Competition?! LOL! How about high prices. Example: Recently Vons and Albertsons had great NW cherries on sale for $1.99/lb. Right down the street, Haggen’s had the same cherries on sale for $3.99/lb.


dogeatdog

Haggen’s was a grocery store chain of about 18 stores to start with. then grew to 50 something if I remember correctly, could not maintain that many stores and had to sell off some and ended up with less stores than they started with.


Then they purchased the Albertson’s/ Vons stores and grew by something like 165 stores. They were no better prepared this time to expand than last time they tried and failed.


There prices continue to jump all over the place, and I don’t think they understood the demographics they moved into here on the central coast.I know people in Oregon who don’t shop haggen’s because of the prices.


I sent them an email about the prices, and they state to wait for the GRAND OPENING that will happen in the near future. I don’t think a grand opening is going to help.


The customers they lost will be very hard if not impossible to get back, in AG the store is down by 60%. Mike Miller the store director said they have gained a different clientele, but I don’t think the number of new shoppers is enough to keep them open. Those new customers used to shop Whole foods, so this store is cheaper to them, but not to most in the area.


The full service deli dept is a joke, very little luncheon meat and cheese to choose from, but they have a tons of salad to purchase.


The only thing I like about the store is there are no long lines, because no one is shopping in the store. Grocery shopping has now become a chore because the choices are so slim, Von’s and Trader Joes basically. I don’t find smart and final that great of a store and I don’t shop there at all. Who needs to buy half a cow for 1 or 2 people?


Wonder what will come in when Haggens’s finally admits defeat and leaves the area?


MaryMalone

QUOTING DOGEATDOG: “Haggen’s was a grocery store chain of about 18 stores to start with. then grew to 50 something if I remember correctly, could not maintain that many stores and had to sell off some and ended up with less stores than they started with.”


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The Manifest Destiny approach always leaves those with “less” having even less “less.”


Where Haggan miscalculated is their assumption that Central Coast folks are chumps.


CHnemo

When they first opened in Arroyo Grande, I sent a very kind e-mail to them, that their pricing was way out of touch with the community. I got a reply that they had already changed 1,000’s of prices and were working to rectify the problem. I went in a few day ago same problem.


SpeakTruth

Haggen came in, jacked up prices, and then blamed the competition for doing what exactly, having better prices? Serves Haggen right; they should go out of business! I welcome the grocery stores that take Haggen’s place, who will likely hire Haggen’s old employees, and stay in business by keeping prices reasonable.


pasoparent5

The Haggen store in Paso (formerly Vons) isn’t doing well because the prices are too high and the “upscale” feel just isn’t a good fit in that location.

Not sure if the Haggen team scouted out the demographics the way a Trader Joes corporate team would but the chances of that store staying in business are slim to none.


the guy paso

If by upscale you mean paying $20 for a 2lb organic chicken, then you are correct.


Rich in MB

Full time to Part time….

Ta–DA….


Thank you Obamacare!


LameCommenter

You mailed it, Rich, Obamacare is moving hundreds of thousands to thirty hours as desperate employers cut costs. Maybe Haggen is doing the same? If Haggen must pay 26% premium hikes as I did, loss of 27 year Anthem plan, no doctors take it here in slo so you have to go to a big medical group in LA for specialist care, double the deductible, certain meds DENIED……..well……….you nailed it. Easier for them to switch employees to 30 hours NO medical plan than a gummed up costly ACA one. I was sorry to see the two Haggen places I visited not very busy. I prefer at least SOME competition to keep the biggest boys honest. I don’t think you will wait long to see some Haggen units close.


BTW, you got over 46% thumbs down (as of this moment) on your sensible observation of the real situation in our country since the adoption of the Affordable Care Act. Too bad so many of the other-wise sensible posters here SWITCH OFF their brains and become defensive and protective fanatics the minute somebody points out a factual situation which is unfavorable to the ACA. Your comment was on-point and likely a key to Haggen’s game plan for these remade stores. The thirty hour thing is very germaine to this issue.


Personally I fear that Haggen’s cost cutting might not be enough for them to balance the books, and if some close leaving NO competition such as in Los Osos, townsfolk will miss them like the loss of Spencers SLO. Competition good, monopoly, bad.


MaryMalone

You are REALLY reaching here….


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