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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pi-on

With the exception of Costco, which of the stores you mentioned pays a decent wage? I would bet none of them. Second, Greed? Isn’t it similar to getting the most value from the least expense-such as what you claim to do at the bargain basement stores? Seriously, observe your own actions before you accuse someone else of a baseless charge.

SLO_Johnny

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A&P operates Waldbaums, Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Pathmark and Food Basics, as well as its namesake stores. It has more than 300 locations,

FILED for BANKRUPTCY AGAIN, just three years after emerging from court protection

The company has STRUGGLED of late TO COMPETE with newcomers including Whole Foods Market Inc. and Trader Joe’s Co. Its stores came to seem dated, and the company’s bottom line sagged under LABOR EXPENSES including HIGH PENSION COSTS.

Lilylu

Our household earns about the average for SLO county, but I shop at Grocery Outlet, Food 4 Less and Trader Joe’s. I can find virtually everything I need at those stores with occasional visits to other supermarket chains if they have a good deal on meat or produce that is a loss leader. In today’s economy bargain shopping is the way to go. (None of the places I shop have union workers.) I do sympathize with long time employees who are losing their jobs but really….Should a checker and shelf stocker make more than a bank teller or retail sales person? Guess in the end unions can do only so much for their members if companies can’t make a profit.

agag1

I feel for the Haggen employees. To go from working in a once busy store, to working in a struggling store, then having your hours cut, or losing your job all together is no doubt devastating. Let’s hope Haggen is able to turn the corner, but they’re in a difficult business and our area is especially challenging.

MaryMalone

I know someone who works at Haggan’s and, yes, it is really bad, on a lot of levels.

If this situation continues on, I would not be surprised to hear about workers filing workers comp complaints.

tictac1

That CEO is seriously out of touch. I can’t vouch for other stores, but here in Paso they discontinued products I bought regularly, and raised the prices on others. Albertson’s didn’t run any sort of competitive ads that I’m aware of, I simply started shopping with them because of the selection and pricing. I now drive a little farther to hit Albertson’s, which I would not do were it not for poor decision making from Haggen’s upper management.

Von’s was always busy, Haggen’s is pretty much dead… Albertson’s didn’t have to lift a finger.

hijinks

We wondered from the beginning how this would work out for Haggen. They went from a minor regional chain with a handful of stores to this giant chain in a market they didn’t know or understand. And they did it in no time at all — no years and years of planning, just a few months, which left way too little time for careful planning. It looked like a real crap shoot from the beginning. Now it turns out they really didn’t know what they were getting into. Reminds us of Gottschalks, a really good regional retailer which undertook the same sort of multi-regional rapid expansion, and then went out of business. What a shame. It’s doubtful Haggen can ever recover from that 50% customer decline, especially if all their leadership understands about the nature of the problem is to claim there’s lots of competition.

We can blame the vulture capitalists at Cerberus for all of this — first they bought Albertsons (and ran up their prices) then bought Vons (and ran up their prices) all so a bunch of Wall Street wolves could make out like bandits — knowing there would be monopoly issues that would require vast divestiture of stores, then selling all of them to the innocents at Haggen. If you don’t like the high price of groceries, just remember why they’re so high — Wall Street monopolists meddling in the “market.”

slolusion

The haggens people seem to have no idea how poor SLO is. People here arent affluent whatsoever. I have little doubt several of their stores will close, along with the jobs. Some shopping centers in SLO already have vacancies. I feel as if SLO should be moved somwhere in poor and rural Alabama. If Boss Hog ever left Georgia, hed be right at home in SLO.

Snoid

Oh yeah, as far as Hasbeen groceries goes, yes, their very overpriced much like a few other “Boutique” grocers in our county.

jana

The Federal Trade Commission forced this sale and now after it has gone through the little guy figures out they bit off more than they can chew.

Their only solution, cut overhead and eliminate jobs.

Another stellar achievement of our Federal Government! Thanks FTC!

bobfromsanluis

Your assertion is that Haggen was forced to buy the stores they did by the federal government? Wow, so President Obama really is a dictator ….

Snoid

That would be correct. He forced us to buy health insurance like it or not didn’t he? I ask how ignorant can one human being be, no less one who claims to be commander and chief, to ask the question, why would you want to eliminate health care for everyone in America??? As nothing more than a high school grad allow me to answer that one, cause its costing those of us who work for a living twice what health care cost pre O/C. So stay the hell out of my hard earned income ya thief bastards.

MaryMalone

I don’t think corporations are forced to do anything. They run the numbers and if it works out to their advantage, they go ahead with whatever they were planning.

As IF corporations are the victims….absolutely absurd.

obispan

I would not describe the Comvest Group, to which Haggen was sold in 2011, as “the little guy”.