ROYAL AHOLD U.S. WORKERS TAKE FIGHT TO AMSTERDAM AT COMPANY’S ANNUAL SHAREHOLDERS’ MEETING
Workers to Make Case for Company to Afford Martin’s Employees the Same Rights Granted to Other Ahold Workers in U.S. and EuropeThree Ahold workers from the Virginia area are traveling to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, to attend the company’s annual general shareholders’ meeting on April 20, 2011. Workers will address the assembly on the unfair treatment that employees at Ahold-owned Martin’s stores in Richmond, Va., are subjected to and demand that management stop the attacks on workers, and afford its Martin’s employees the same organizing and bargaining rights granted to Ahold workers elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe.
In fiscal year 2010, Ahold reported approximately $39.09 billion in revenues and $1.77 billion in operating income.
“We are taking a stand at the shareholders’ meeting in Europe because we believe that many of the shareholders do not know what’s going on at Martin’s,” said Richmond native Shaquana Battle, who works as a cashier at the Martin’s Forest Hill store in Richmond. “Since Ahold bought our store, management dictates everything with little regard for workers and customers. You don’t get the feeling anyone really cares about you as a worker, and there is no sense of dignity.”
Also known as Royal Ahold, the Netherlands-based company expanded into the Richmond area a little over a year ago with the purchase of 25 stores from local Ukrop’s chain, which it now operates under the Martin’s banner. Although Ahold already benefits from a mutually beneficial labor partnership with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union, which represents 65 percent of the company’s U.S. workforce–approximately 70,000 employees–Ahold decided to integrate the newly purchased stores with its non-union banner.
“Historically, Ahold’s unionized operations have posted higher operating margins than its non-union operations and the entire Ahold group,” said Bill Dempsey, director of the UFCW’s Capital Stewardship Program. “Yet, Ahold management has apparently indicated that its primary focus for expansion is its non-union banner. These are troubling business decisions and we believe the decision to grow non-union as opposed to union comes with a set of risks for the company that could impact its valuation.”
Some of Ahold’s troubling business decisions include integrating their newly acquired Ukrop’s stores in Richmond with their anti-union banner based in Carlisle, Pa., rather than with their unionized operation in Landover, Md. As a result, its supply chain is 150 kilometers longer, imposing additional costs, greater complexity, and increased carbon emissions.
Manassas, Va., resident Kayla Mock, a UFCW Local 400 union member who has worked at one of Ahold’s unionized stores–Giant Food–for the past 12 years, will take the trip to Amsterdam to express her solidarity with Ahold’s non-union workers. “I stayed at Giant because my store is unionized and the contracts that we’ve negotiated over the years have provided me with a comfortable life,” Mock said. “Why should Ahold’s Richmond workers be denied the same rights and treated as second-class employees? What does that say about how Ahold views people in this city?”
About the iHold Campaign
The iHold campaign is a coalition of Netherlands-based Royal Ahold company workers in the United States and Europe, joining with civil rights, religious, labor and community groups in a grassroots movement to end the double standard policy at Ahold, and make the company a workplace where all workers are treated fairly and given the basic freedom to join together and pursue their dreams. For more on the Ahold workers’ fight for fairness in the workplace, visit www.iholdcampaign.org.
Coming Soon….Look for workers video diaries on their trip to Amsterdam at the iHold Campaign YouTube Channel
The iHold Campaign is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The UFCW represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries.