U.S. Union Takes on Ahold
AMSTERDAM–Dutch supermarket company Ahold is risking a severe conflict in the U.S. with the large union UFCW regarding issues with American subsidiairy Martin’s, who is doing all it can to keep the union out. Yesterday, UFCW Executive Vice President Patrick O’Neill unsuccessfully visited the headquarters in the Netherlands to meet with the Dutch Ahold top management.
O’Neill calls the ‘impolite’ refusal to receive him “unwise, both from a personal and a business perspective”.
O’Neill represents 1.3 million members of the American union, including 70,000 members working at Ahold’s subsidiairies in the U.S., which is 65% of all American Ahold employees.
In addition to chains that do collaborate well with the unions, such as Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, Ahold owns Giant-Carlisle, which operates under the Martin’s banner among others. At this chain, unions cannot get a foothold.
That is why O’Neill came over yesterday with a delegation of colleagues to meet with the Ahold top management.
“We wanted to deliver the message that trade union rights also must apply in the U.S. And we wanted to reach an agreement about that here, because they don’t want to talk over there,” O’Neill said in an exclusive interview with De Financiële Telegraaf on Tuesday.
But instead of a meeting with someone from Ahold top management, O’Neill and his delegation claim they were received by lower management.
“This was disappointing,” O’Neill said with visible chagrin. “We deserve a better treatment and we demand a better treatment.” The refusal to do business with the union at one of the American Ahold chains will certainly have consequences, say O’Neill.
In a response, Ahold says that the delegation did not have an appointment, but was nevertheless received by the Chief HR, who reports directly to the Executive Board.
“They have explained their case to us and given us a document. We will study that and see who will respond. Our intention is always to work this out together,” an Ahold spokesperson said.
Translated to English from Dutch.