Work­ers de­liver pe­ti­tion to Gi­ant head­quar­ters against merger

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­ Twit­ter:@SykesIndyNews

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 Coun- cil­man 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.”

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