In 2006, organizers at Local 358 (Richmond, Va.) were extremely disappointed after workers at the Supervalu distribution center in Richmond Virginia, voted narrowly against joining the BCTGM.
“It’s a punch in the gut when you lose a campaign,” says International Representative Jim Condran who assisted the local during the organizing drive. “But we never lost contact with those workers and the organizing committee continued to work doggedly to garner more support.”
Fast forward eight years, and those same organizers are all smiles along with the newest union members.
In late August, more than 300 Supervalu workers voted overwhelmingly to join BCTGM Local 358.
“It’s a much better feeling this time around,” said Local 358 Business Agent Ted Constable.
Despite a coordinated anti-union campaign by outside union busters, BCTGM supporters in the distribution center remained vigilant, educating new employees about the company’s broken promises and informing workers about the benefits of unionization.
According to Director of Organization John Price, establishing a strong base of support is absolutely critical to successful organizing. “Like in most organizing campaigns, your success comes from the work done by the organizing committee and its supporters. The committee in Richmond did a fantastic job educating and organizing,” said Price.
After the initial defeat in 2006, Local 358 leadership maintained contact with its core group of supporters and focused on educating other employees about their rights, dealing with issues at work and informing them continuously on what a union contract could do for them.
According to BCTGM International President David Durkee, it is imperative that local unions maintain contact with workers at locations where they may not have won an organizing drive on the first try. “Local 358 has a history of going back to organizing sites where they have not experienced a victory on its first attempt,” said Durkee. “And it is because of their persistence, more than 300 new workers will get to experience the benefits of belonging to the BCTGM.”
Supervalu is a retail and grocery distribution powerhouse in the United States. The corporation, headquartered in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has been in business for over a century and is the third-largest food retailing company in the United States (after Kroger and Safeway).
In January 2013, the company announced it was selling the Acme Markets, Shaw’s and Jewel-Osco chains and their remaining Albertsons stores to Cerberus Capital Management for $100 million in cash, with Cerberus assuming $3.2 billion in existing debt. SuperValu would keep its Cub, Farm Fresh, Shoppers, Shop ‘n Save and Hornbacher’s brands as well as its wholesale supply operation while the Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, and Jewel-Osco stores were reunited with Albertsons. The deal closed March 21, 2013.
The BCTGM represents members at Supervalu retailers across the country.