Union Ensures Members Keep Their Jobs, Pay, Benefits, Seniority

Local 400 members who were working at the Shoppers at Fair City Mall in Fairfax, VA, are now Safeway employees with same pay and benefits working at the same location. That’s because when Shoppers’ parent company, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), announced plans to close the store, their union reached out to Safeway and helped make the sale happen, with full protection for all workers.

Every worker at the Shoppers was given the opportunity to continue working there under Safeway at their current position, rate of pay, benefits and seniority. They were also given the option of transferring to another Shoppers. All but two opted to join Safeway. All of the Shoppers department managers are now working at Safeway as well.

“When we first heard about the closure plans, there was a lot of uncertainty,” said Local 400 member Jose Mercado, a meat cutter and shop steward who worked 25 years at Shoppers prior to the sale and now has the same position at Safeway. “But then we were real happy that Safeway was going to take over the store and keep us on. We knew someone was going to be there who wanted to be there. We had a new sense of security.”

Since Safeway reopened the store on November 12th, after a few days of being closed for remodeling, “It’s been good,” Mercado said. “We got a good reception from Safeway—they received us with open arms and made us feel like part of the family. We got to keep what we were making at Shoppers and our years of service, and our health insurance is just about the same. Local 400 got all that for us—without our union, I don’t know where we’d be.”

“This is exactly the outcome we’ve always sought from the moment UNFI announced plans to close Shoppers stores,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “The fact that it happened is a tribute to the hard work and great customer service provided by our members. Safeway officials did their due diligence, visited the store many times, and were so impressed with our members, they realized their best option was to purchase the store with the exact same workers. It’s a win-win-win result—good for Safeway, good for the store’s customers, and good for our members.

“Our members make Shoppers—and Safeway—stores profitable, and we have some expectation that UNFI will come to realize its best option is to keep its remaining Shoppers stores open and possibly even expand,” Federici said. “But if future closures occur, what happened in Fairfax will be a model for what we want to achieve. No matter what, we always do everything in our power to leave no member behind.”