Haggen laying off dozens of workers, union filing grievances

July 16, 2015


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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the whole industry needs to be rethought and restructured. these stores throw away literally tons of food a week compared to what’s actually sold, while children in parts of this country let alone the world are starving. In order to keep it on the shelf its then loaded with preservatives and processed with chemicals that you or I cant even pronounce or comprehend. finally and most expensively comes the regulation from our wonderful fda and usda on what and how much bs is ok to b in our food, then to charge whatever they see fit in order to throw an organic label on it. Im not saying everybody should just grow and hunt everything they eat, just that there are some stores that are a little more conscious or aware of what corporate bs goes on in the food industry. I would recommend the co-op in slo, little small but if they had more business I could see them expanding and doing it right.

Here was the FTC mandate to make the purchase of Safeway, Inc. by Albertsons final:

(in a nut-shell):

In a location where there are both Safeway brand and Albertsons brand, Albertsons must give up one of them. Think they gave up the money-makers? For years, that favorite Albertsons or Vons you loved to shop at was essentially subsidized by the more profitable stores. You can tell your favorite was not a money-maker, as it now has the “Haggen” name on the building.

In the end, the risk was Haggen’s to take – not sure of who else is available to purchase them. Kroger (Ralph’s) sure wasn’t going to touch those turds with a twelve foot pole. It’s not all Albertsons fault, as Haggen had to agree, and if they did not have capable people to analyze and crunch numbers (or worse, were given inaccurate numbers), then it is their problem.

From Albertsons perspective, in the overall picture, they got to SELL their losses. How awesome is that?

That is why I shop at Haggens before trying Albertsons. At least in this instance it does appear to me that Haggens was set up to fail by the competition.

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