Basha family members angrily denounced a union and an affiliated group over recent charges leveled at the 75-yearold company.
Several Bashas’ executives, including family patriarch Eddie Basha Jr. and company President Mike Proulx, delivered an emotional press briefing Monday morning peppered with words like “lies” and “slander” when describing tactics by the United Food Workers Coalition and a group it formed called Hungry for Respect. That group is actively working to unionize the company’s 14,000 employees.
Officials said a union study claiming to have found more than 600 units of expired infant formula was false and described the dispute between the company and UFCW as a battle. Basha said that while the UFCW’s accusations haven’t really hurt his company’s business, he takes the charges personally and vowed to take the groups head on.
Johnny Basha, the company’s vice chairman of the board, said the group is manipulating public opinion in its efforts to unionize workers. “We will not sit back and allow this to happen,” he said.
Officials pointed to some examples that they say call the study into question. For example, at an Ike’s Farmers Market in Oro Valley, the UFCW claims to have found several brands of baby formula that the company said it doesn’t sell there.
“We’re just continuing to find holes in what they’re claiming,” Bashas’ spokeswoman Kristy Nied said. She said the union won’t allow Bashas’ officials to inspect the evidence.
“If they were truly concerned about public safety, they would have turned over the infant formula and receipts to us immediately,” Nied said.
Bashas’ officials said the union is trying to pressure it into entering a labor contract without putting the issue before employees via a private vote.
They said the union knows it would fail under those circumstances because company workers are almost completely opposed to representation.
Basha said the benefits his company offers are above the norm. “Basically, we offer our (workers) more than the union offers,” he said.
Jim McLaughlin, president of the UFCW Local 99, said the group plans to share evidence from the study, including the receipts and containers. “If they’re going to continue to make allegations about slander, sue us,” he said. Bashas’ was started in 1932 by Ike and Eddie Basha Sr.
It’s the largest locally owned grocery chain in Arizona with more than 150 locations and 14,000 employees.