Union workers stand together against Giant, Food Lion merger
Ahold, the corporation that owns Giant Foods, and Delhaize, the parent corporation of Food Lion, are set to merge. In an effort to meet antitrust standards and Federal Trade Commission regulations to complete the merger, eight Giant Food stores could be closing soon, including one in La Plata.
But to prevent it, both workers and customers at Giant Foods united to deliver a petition to the company’s headquarters in Landover stating they would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the collective bargaining agreement between the store owners and Local United Food and Commercial Workers 400 no matter who owns the stores.
The petition also said the union and its workers call on Ahold and Giant to “respect” their “loyalty, dedication and years of service” to the company by preserving their jobs.
The merger is on track to close by mid-2016, Tim van der Zanden, a spokesman for Ahold, said. The only thing the two companies are waiting on is FTC approval.
Mike Wilson, a union representative, said the union suspects the approval of the merger hinges on FTC approval, but if workers make enough of a demonstration they could sway the FTC.
But as of now, Wilson said during a town hall meeting with union workers, “the only people who know what they have decided to do are the people at Ahold.”
The goal of marching to Giant Headquarters in Landover is to show the public what the company is doing, Wilson said.
Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said he does not “want to see any grocery store in the county lose it’s position.”
Del. Edith Patterson (D-Charles) attended the march along with Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin (D), who represents southern portions of the county.
Patterson said she stands with workers who are “fighting to protect” their jobs. Ahold and Delhaize have granted no assurances to workers who have their livelihoods dependent on jobs with Giant, and taking that away from them would not be right.
“I have a real issue with a European company, or any company, that plans on coming in and displacing workers,” Patterson said.
Workers need to be assured, she said, they will have the same quality of life and salaries they do now. Maryland, as a state, is all about working families, she said, and what these companies are planning on doing would “disrupt working families.”
Patterson said she has a Giant card and has been a Giant shopper and does not want this merger to have an effect on the people she has gotten to know as employees through shopping at the store.
Wilson said Giant is being targeted because of the union status of its employees.
Patterson said there are other options out there for the companies to take, including selling Food Lion stores rather than selling these Giant stores.
Ultimately, Patterson said, it comes down to preserving the state of working families in Maryland.
Unfairly targeting them is not right, she said, and is not something she will stand for.
“Working families who have become accustom and who qualify and who have benefits that enable them to sustain their families and sustain their equitable pay and opportunities,” Patterson said. “I cannot be silent and will not be silent about this issue.”