Bashas' Family of Stores Files Lawsuit against United Food & Commercial Worker's...

Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:00pm EST

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Bashas' Family of Stores Files Lawsuit against United Food & Commercial Worker's Union

    Hometown Grocer Cites Defamation, Intentional Interference with
                          Business Operations
CHANDLER, Ariz.--(Business Wire)--Bashas' Family of Stores, Arizona's hometown grocer, today filed a
lawsuit against the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.
Submitted to the Superior Court of Arizona, the lawsuit names the UFCW
and the union's operatives - including its false-front organization,
"Hungry for Respect" - for defamation and intentionally interfering
with the grocer's operations to extort an agreement for union
representation.

   "In the 75 years that our company has served Arizona, we've never
been the target of such strong-arm tactics, and such ugly, malicious
lies," said Mike Proulx, Bashas' president and chief operating
officer. "We will not allow the UFCW or its operatives to bully,
intimidate or harass our employees or our customers. This extortion
has got to stop. Enough's enough."

   Bashas' Family of Stores operates Food City, AJ's Fine Foods and
Bashas' supermarkets. The family-owned and -operated company was
recently selected as a "Best Place to Work" - an award based on
employee input to an independently-conducted human resources survey.
The grocer, which offers benefits and a pay scale equal to or greater
than its unionized competitors, employs more than 14,000 people,
making it an attractive target for the UFCW.

   Bashas' has been a target of the UFCW since 2001, when the UFCW
filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize
the grocer's Food City workforce. In June 2002, the National Labor
Relations Board rejected the UFCW's petition to represent Food City
employees, finding that the bargaining unit the UFCW sought to
represent was not appropriate. Less than a month after that ruling,
the UFCW withdrew its petition, presumably because the UFCW knew it
would lose a fair, secret-ballot election among Food City employees.

   The UFCW then switched gears to a "win at all costs" corporate
campaign against Bashas'. The goal of this campaign is to pressure
management into voluntarily signing a union contract on behalf of its
14,000 employees - rather than allowing individual employees to vote
for themselves, in a secret-ballot election, whether they want a
union.

   "We will not allow the UFCW to take away our employees' rights to
choose whether or not they want to be represented by the UFCW or any
other union," said Proulx. "Arizona is a right to work state where
employees have a choice whether or not they want to be represented by
a union. The UFCW would like to remove this right, and make Arizona a
closed shop state - so that employees don't have the freedoms they do
today. If the UFCW had its druthers, everyone working in Arizona would
be forced, by law, to give a portion of every paycheck to a union."

   UFCW organizer Joe Crump described the UFCW's strategy as a
"win-or-destroy-business" mentality. In a recent, published article,
Crump said organizing with the National Labor Relations Board means
putting enough pressure on employers, costing enough time, energy and
money to either eliminate them or get them to surrender to the union.
UFCW President Doug Dority, concurred, stating in a public meeting
that the UFCW "must reduce these (non-union) chains' market share...or
we must put them out of business. There is no other option."

   To carry out its corporate campaign against Bashas', the UFCW
created and funded "Hungry for Respect," a sham organization designed
to publicly disparage Bashas' and its business practices. These
operatives have repeatedly delivered false and defamatory statements
about Bashas' treatment of its members/employees; the health and
cleanliness of grocery stores owned by Bashas'; and Bashas' regard for
and treatment of Hispanic customers and employees.

   Just last month, the UFCW and "Hungry for Respect" mailed an
unknown number of flyers to the homes of numerous Maricopa County
residents. The mailers were designed to create the impression that
Bashas' stores have "significant health hazard(s) that could cause
contamination or food borne illness." According to the Maricopa County
Health Department, however, Bashas' stores have received better
inspection scores than their unionized competitors from January 2005
to September 2007.

   "The UFCW's campaign is carefully crafted to inflict substantial
economic damages, destroy Bashas' reputation and extort Bashas' into
submitting to unionization. "The UFCW has given Bashas' an ultimatum
with two unacceptable choices - force Bashas' employees into their
union or the UFCW will destroy Bashas' business," said Michael
Manning, the attorney representing Bashas' in this lawsuit. "This
complaint announces Bashas' response to the UFCW's ultimatum."

   The UFCW's corporate campaign has included filing frivolous EEOC
charges; promoting a class action lawsuit; conducting defamatory phone
surveys; distributing negative flyers, door hangers and direct mail
pieces; crafting, distributing and publicizing inflammatory and false
reports; accusing the company of selling expired products, then
planting expired products on store shelves; calling in false reports
to governmental agencies alleging health code and other operational
violations; organizing public demonstrations both inside and outside
of stores, with the goal of disrupting and discouraging business;
showing up uninvited to homes of Bashas' employees; arranging
"town-hall-style" meetings to publicly attack Bashas'; paying for
automated pre-recorded phone and text messages that disparage Bashas'
and Food City stores; paying prominent and recognizable media outlets
to defame Bashas'; handsomely funding vocal community activists to
serve as spokespersons against Bashas'; and making personal home
visits to encourage shoppers to boycott Bashas' and Food City stores.

   "It's unfortunate that the UFCW is using millions of dollars from
members' dues - collected from unionized employees and employers
throughout the country - to fund this unethical campaign. Instead, it
should be devoting these dollars and its energies into helping the
people it claims to represent," said Proulx. "We will defend our
company from the lies, the wrongdoing, and the slick, negative
campaigning. We owe it to our family of employees to stand up for the
truth and what's right."

   Bashas' was founded 75 years ago by brothers Ike and Eddie Basha,
Sr. Since then, it has become the largest family-owned grocer in
Arizona, and the 12th largest employer in the state. Bashas' is the
15th-largest privately-held supermarket chain in the nation. Bashas'
owns and operates more than 160 grocery stores in Arizona, California
and New Mexico. For more information, visit www.bashas.com or
www.bashastogether.com.

Bashas' Family of Stores, Chandler
Kristy Nied, 480-201-2030 (mobile)
knied@bashas.com

Copyright Business Wire 2007
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