An El Cajon supermarket is irritating its customer base by allegedly scheduling staff below an acceptable standard.
On March 20, shortly before 8 p.m., approximately 30 customers were lined up at the two checkstands open at the Ralphs on Second Street. While a security guard fulfilled store duties by relocating a load of split wood, two men walked out the door without paying for the liquor hidden under their jackets. Customers yelled at cashiers and called on management to provide more staff.
This is not an isolated occurrence. Patrons and a staff member reported that a week prior, on March 14, only four staff were scheduled to work after 7 p.m. until closing at 1 a.m. Customers reported that they were lined up at the two open checkstands for 20 minutes; the same security guard apprehended a woman attempting to make off with $200 worth of meat.
In October 2006, Ralphs supermarket was fined $70 million for illegal employee relations against members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). Another part of the penalty levied against Ralphs was a three-year probationary period for employee relations, which recently ended. An employee of the El Cajon store alleged that management had begun "short shifting" the store once the probationary period expired.
Aside from four staff at the front of the store on March 20, no other employees could be found elsewhere. Adjacent to the nightly schedule was a white-board sign inscribed with the words "No Breaks."
The store manager was unable to assist with inquiries, as she was performing as a cashier. At the same time, a large spill lay nearby. Outside of the store, staff indicated that they were frightened to lodge grievances for occupational safety and health issues and breach-of contract-grievances for fear of reprisals from management.