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.

Haggen 2

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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Latte2Party

If you’re buying “winter” tomatoes at TJ’s or Costco, they’re almost always from Santa Maria’s Windward Farms (hydroponic organic).


freshair

There’s no better place to buy fresh produce here on the central coast than your local farmer’s market: http://bit.ly/1MyrtiT


smiley

They came in and raised prices like they were in Beverly Hills. Welcome to the Central Coast Haggens! Check out Food For Less and the 99 Cent Store if you want to know why you are losing customers.


smile4thecamera

I seem to buy the same things continually and I noticed a .59 cent per bottle price hike in the salad dressing we like at Haggen. Then I noticed Vons hiked theirs too. A box of Big Stick popsicles is $1.25 more at Haggen than at Vons – wth? The only thing I like about Haggen is their larger selection of organic produce so I go there for that. Otherwise I fill in with Foods-4-Less and Trader Joe’s. My local Haggen store is very quiet. The local Food-4-Less is even busier than it was. I hate having to visit 3 markets to get good prices, but if that’s what it takes I will continue to do so. In order to afford to shop at Haggen, I think I need to start using manufacturer coupons.


dogeatdog

I am so glad to see someone else noticed Vons raised their prices, they made there roast beef in the deli $13.00 a lb same as Haggens.


I personally would like to do a one day strike against the grocery stores, let them take realize we do hold some power. It would cost them a pretty penny if no one shopped at Von’s for 24 hours.


smile4thecamera

dogeatdog: Vons hiked their prices on lots of things. I only go there once in awhile if there is something in their ad that is well priced. I quit Vons shopping regularly 2 years ago when I was having a big family event, spent a ton of money and was 15th in line at 9:30 AM on a week-day. Only one check-stand open. Come on! Why torture your customers like that? So Vons doesn’t get my vote either! You set the strike day and I’m in.


r0y

From what I could tell, the FORCED selling of the stores when Alberstsons bought Safeway (vons, pavillion, etc) by the FTC likely caused some really under-handed moves by Albertsons senior management.


It is really easy, it’s like training your replacement at work: you do a shitty job because you know you’re getting canned once the person is trained. Albertsons acted no differently with vendors, logistics, etc. It’s all “inside baseball” that the average consumer probably doesn’t understand nor care to, but Haggen was not the cause of this. They were, however, caught unawares and have failed to react properly.


I look at Haggen like any other market: certain things are better quality, better priced or just available. I have not done all my shopping at a single market for years. For instance, I’d never shop at Trader Joe’s for more than a small handful of items (and the shoppers are the most annoying in the SLO one); I love California Fresh, but they are like Haggen – pick and choose the deals, decide if you want the higher-quality vs. lower-quality elsewhere (Food 4 Less), etc.


I actually like the salads at the Deli in the old Scholari’s location, and the Meat Dept. is decent (try those Kalbi ribs!). The produce is about “vons” quality – I do miss Spencer’s in SLO, they always had really good produce (quality-wise, like the first pick of the distribution).


I hope they get it together, as I think we would all benefit in the end.


whatdouno

As a steady Von’s shopper I was shocked by the 30% price increase at Haggens, however unlike mr Shaners response; I noticed that both Albertsons in Paso and Von’s in Atascadero also raised their prices. So the competition actually didn’t work against them, but seemed to be working in their favor. I now drive to California Fres in Five Cities when on other South Coutny business to do my shopping. Their prices and store are incredible. Will note however, stopped by Haggens in Paso for an item or two and did notice prices are coming down.


MaryMalone

I am a regular Smart and Final shopper now, too. The one thing I regret about the store is there vegetable/fruit department has items that have a very short shelf-life.


I loved Spencer’s. Their meat department was wonderful.


Perspicacious

Still a Spencer’s n MB. I agree, Spencer’s is great.


azuresees

Big bottle of Jack Daniel went from $32 to $39 overnight….They blame the competition? Of course they do!


Otis

The Haggen switchover came as a result of the stated objective to increase competition by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The consumer was to benefit. The FTC forced Albertsons and Safeway Inc. to sell off 168 of their supermarkets as their merger was seen as anti-competitive for consumers.


Here is where government intervened with the objective of benefiting the consumer where a different and more costly remedy is the result.


Here in Arroyo Grande the Haggen branch is a disaster where Albertson’s before was a classy competitive and highly visited location. No more — consumers fly next door to Walmart and Smart and Final on Grand Avenue.


The FTC can be rightly criticized in forcing this disaster. This is another example where government has gone wrong.


The employees being laid off join the consumers in their complaints — but they are the real loser in this failed FTC action.


Rich in MB

I’m from the government and I’m here to help….


Ha ha ha….suckers.


BeenThereDoneThat

We’re the Government, we’re here to help…………………….


Rich in MB

On paper….but not in pratice any longer. The School Hose Rock songs of how a Bill Becomes a Law, etc are no longer how our Government works…


Wake up to that reality or keep fiddling while Rome Burns


BeenThereDoneThat

Rich you must not understand sarcasm or read my prior posts? If you did you would know how I really felt about this.


Gov. is the problem in a most cases.


You know the joke, what is the worse thing you can hear? See above.


CentralcoastRN

I found the AG Haggen to be dingy. The employees I encountered the two times I went there were not helpful. A carton of egg whites was $2.00 more than other stores, whole eggs the same. When I asked the manager what the issue was, I was told they didn’t have their local distributors set up, so they had to ship items longer distances and that was the cause of the high prices.


I used to be an exclusive Vons shopper. I am tired of being accosted in the parking lot by people selling something, homeless panhandlers, etc. It is hard to be loyal to a grocer when it doesn’t seem that they have customer loyalty.


Trader Joes and Smart and Final (in the old AG Spencer’s location) have be best deals in the 5 Cities area in my opinion.


SloTownMan

The only problem with Smart & Final is none of their produce is local.


BeenThereDoneThat

And you think that those tomatoes you buy in the dead of winter here from another store are!!??


SloTownMan

Its not winter is it ?


BeenThereDoneThat

So you have never had winter where you are from?


BeenThereDoneThat

It is funny how in our current world of getting all goods from food, to electronics, cars and a lot of items, people all want to act above the fray and be isolationists. Fine buy EVERYTHING only American and tell me how that works? In a Global economy of today, it is near impossible.


kayaknut

I have noticed much of the produce at Trader Joe’s comes from Mexico, all year long.