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Shopping at Fresh & Easy stores on the weekends may also include interactions with picketers who are members of the United Food & Commercial Workers union.

A blog posted last year on the Fresno Bee website stated, "They're not picketing only the fact that the stores' workers are not unionized, but that the company is not locally owned. Fresh & Easy is owned by British grocer Tesco."

A press release from the United Food & Commercial Workers union quoted UFCW 8-Golden State president Jacques Loveall as saying, "Tesco, which is Fresh & Easy's parent company in the United Kingdom, is siphoning money out of our community.... We are responding to that provocation."

On several Saturdays and Sundays in February, union picketers converged on the Fresh & Easy store located at 955 Catalina Boulevard in Point Loma. They handed out flyers and spoke with patrons entering and exiting the store. The literature handed out stated: "Tell Fresh & Easy- Let Your Workers Freely Choose a Union." It insinuated that the company was guilty of unfair labor practices by "illegally threatening employees for discussing unionization" and also "illegally surveilling employees."

A Fresh & Easy employee told me that most employees are "perfectly fine" with not being unionized and that union officials somehow acquired the private phone numbers of store employees and made calls to them during day and nighttime hours.

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Comments

Alleybrat Feb. 26, 2011 @ 8:15 p.m.

I find the lament that 'Fresh & Easy' is siphoning funds out of San Diego rather quaint. I don't know if the union has noticed, but a rather large number of fine US retailers have siphoned a fair amount of loot from communities around the globe. These include Wal-Mart, which regularly repatriates funds from local communities around the US, to Arkansas. Don't get me wrong: I'm strongly in favor of boosting local retailers, particularly if they sell fresh, healthy food from local growers and farmers. But to complain about a company making a serous attempt to reinvent smaller stores in a more neighborhood-friendly environment than the dreary norm, seems perverse.

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Gail Powell Feb. 27, 2011 @ 7:38 a.m.

I worked at Henry's Marketplace years ago in the 1990's when this same Labor Union would aggressively picket that non-union store and the union rhetoric got very heated out there along the "public" sidewalks.

Now it seems that the Labor Unions are showing their teeth due to the victory of Wal-Mart's efforts to bypass the City Council and get some new stores built selling groceries around town. The unions have to show their members-whose dues is AUTOMATICALLY deducted from their own paychecks-that they are doing "something" to combat these non-union encroachers.

I did ask about this up at the Fresh & Easy and the employee I spoke with said that it is known that there are a couple of F&E insiders who are the ones doing the internal agitating. He said that most of the employees just want to keep an arm's length away from all the union politics and BS.

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Visduh Feb. 27, 2011 @ 9:18 a.m.

Part of this story should be a comparison between the pay and benefits package offered to the F&E employees and that in the local union contract. Do those non-union workers really know how much it is costing them--or not costing them--to work for a non-union employer? If they are fully informed and choose to avoid a union, I'm all for it. But for a long time, I've wondered just how generously Henry's, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, and a host of other non-union stores pay their employees. The union, I suspect, is aware that it is reaching a tipping point when its unionized chains, including Von's, Ralphs, Stater Brothers, and Albertson's, will start closing stores due to low sales. (Albertson's has already closed several stores in the county.) When that starts to happen in earnest, the union will no longer have enough leverage to really demand good pay and benefits, and will have to accept what is offered.

Those anticipated WalMart Supercenters will hasten that demise, or so most folks assume. But recently Wally's World hasn't been showing such wonderful financial results despite is massive size and importing from China. F&E may just be on the right track with its smaller stores in the 'hood. Personally, I find little to attract me to F&E, even with the $5 and $10 off coupons that seem to be available all the time.

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InOmbra Feb. 27, 2011 @ 9:49 a.m.

I prefer to shop at independent, locally owned grocers when I can; their fresh fruits and vegetables are far less costly, compared to the hip outlets or the big-chain grocers. I do buy certain bulk items at corporate chains if I believe they have histories of fairness with employees (Costco, Target).

That said, F&E, like Trader Joe's, is not a place that interests me because of its focus on packaged ready-to-eat or -to-cook items. Cooking interesting, healthy, low-cost foods means getting the ingredients and putting them together. Yourself. Silly people with more money to throw away than I can afford like F&E because its packaging (items and the store) appears cool or hip or arty or whatever. Expensive and pretentious.

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Jnj Feb. 27, 2011 @ 12:36 p.m.

Fresh and easy insider I worked for fresh n easy in a upper management position. I think what the union and everyone is missing is the way they treat their workers. Firing people for becoming disabled (first hand knowledge), using hearsay not evidence used to fire, (is someone below you wanting your job. Then there is DISCRIMATION yes in today's world DISCRIMATION. I was fired for being Gay. HR came into my store and asked questions that were none of the companies business and the next thing I knew,,,,,, I was fired for some lame reason. Everyone should not shop or work for this horrible company. They put on a good front but under it all is hell. Take it fe someone who was there! Fresh N sleazy should be their name.

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