Last week, a delegation from the Dutch union, FNV Bongenoten, visited the United States to get a better understanding of why Ahold, a Netherlands corporation, that owns supermarket chains in the US and Europe, has an anti-union attitude in the United States. This is one of several visits from the delegation, which is working closely with the UFCW International and UFCW Local 400 on a campaign. The campaign’s goal is to put an end to Ahold’s growth strategy that seemingly aims at undermining or even eliminating the unions all together. At this time, Ahold’s strategy has been to buy grocery chains like Ukrop’s in Richmond (which the UFCW Local 400 iHoldCampaign is focused around) and Gennuardi’s in Philadelphia and opened them as non-union supermarkets.
This type of anti-union activity has also been happening in the Giant Food unionized warehouses. The warehouse located in Jessup, Md. is in the process of shutting down where unionized workers from the Teamsters union and UFCW have been dismissed as Giant transfers the work to non-union sites in Pennsylvania.
During their visit, the delegation asked for a tour of the American Sales Co. plant located in Buffalo, Ny. in order to investigate reports that the Ahold subsidiary was suppressing efforts to form a union there. The Dutch delegation were shocked at the hostility of those who virtually threw them out of the warehouse offices. This kind of behavior was astonishing to the delegation because in European practices union delegations would be politely greeted or even welcomed.
To read more of the Dutch delegations reaction and thoughts of their visit read the Working In These Times article by Bruce Vail.