Ahold: Stop Anti-Union Efforts and Begin to Live Up to Set Standards

Royal Ahold has 218,000 employees. All of them should be treated equally when it comes to basic human rights. Yet, the reality for many Ahold workers is one of a company that fails, by several measures, to uphold those very same fundamental rights.

For the second year in a row, three Ahold workers from Virginia will be traveling to Amsterdam to share their stories at the company’s annual general shareholders’ meeting on April 17, 2012. They will address the assembly on how Royal Ahold is failing to live up to its own high standards.

Last year, two royal stewards escorted shareholders down the red carpet into their meeting. Photo by Kayla Mock.

The workers will share their experiences of the price they and many of their coworkers have paid for management’s unfair treatment of workers in their stores. This unfair treatment creates a work environment where workers are scared, angry, dismayed and most importantly concerned.

Tracy Barrentine, a Martin’s worker from Stephen City, Va. will share that she and her coworkers worry every day could be their last.

“Here in the U.S. you can get fired for anything,” said Barrentine. “There is so much fear instilled in the workers by management that many are too afraid for their jobs and their livelihoods to speak up or offer their opinion on forming a union.”

This is the second year Shaquana Battle, a Martin’s worker from Richmond, Va. will be attending the shareholder meeting in Amsterdam.

After the shareholder meeting concluded last year, Shaquana Battle met Ahold CEO Dick Boer.

“Last year the board said they would take my concerns in to consideration, but honestly I haven’t seen any changes,” said Battle. “The anti-union meetings have continued and are increasing the fear in my coworkers that they will get in trouble or even fired if they decided to support forming a union.

“This year I’m back, hoping to remind the company that according to their ‘royal’ standards workers’ deserve the basic rights to freedom of association without interference from management.”

Stafford, Va. resident Michele Hepner, a UFCW Local 400 union member who has worked at one of Ahold’s unionized stores—Giant Food—for the past 37 years, will take the trip to Amsterdam to express her Solidarity with Ahold’s non-union workers and share her experiences with the company.

“When I visited Giant Landover stores to speak with workers about our union, management welcomed my presence,” said Hepner. “However, when I went to Martin’s in Richmond to speak to my Ahold coworkers, they store manager asked me to leave the store immediately.”

Workers know that Royal Ahold has pledged to implement the UN Global Compact throughout its operations. Meaning, management will respect workers’ basic rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining without interference. Based on the experiences of workers management’s unfair treatment clearly violates the international labor standards the company claims to uphold.

“Ahold must live up to its promise,” said Battle. “After all, a deal is a deal.”