Union raps Fresh & Easy parent firm’s practices - East Valley Tribune: News

Union raps Fresh & Easy parent firm’s practices

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2008 5:01 pm | Updated: 9:52 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A national labor union mailed yet another pamphlet to Valley residents slamming Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's parent company over reports of tainted and spoiled food and its mediocre environmental track record.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers Coalition - a union representing 1.3 million grocery store, meat packing, food processing and manufacturing employees - sent mailers decorated in Fresh & Easy's logo colors with the header "Don't be fooled by Fresh & Easy."

The circulars, which officials sent only to homes surrounding Fresh & Easy stores, say United Kingdom-based Tesco grocery stores were caught selling organic foods tainted with pesticides and that company officials were fined for selling out-of-date food. The Web site has links to several British newspaper articles on the violations.

The Web page also cites a report by the National Consumer Council, which gave the company average marks for its efforts to make "green" shopping easier to the consumer.

"They have a pretty well-documented record of food safety ... violations," said Mike Shimpock, a spokesman for the mailing campaign. "We just thought that it was important that consumers in the area are aware of this as these stores open up."

Shimpock said his organization's motivation was also to persuade the company to the negotiating table on unionization.

Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott said the Web site references "isolated incidents in the United Kingdom."

"In the end, we'll by judged by those who shop with us and work for us, and the feedback that we've gotten so far has been fantastic," he said.

Union organizers have been pursuing nonunionized chains aggressively in many markets, said Howard Daniel, a partner with Ogletree Deakins - the nation's third-largest labor and employment law firm.

"Chains have come in and opened very nice, consumer-friendly stores and have taken away market share from some of the older unionized chains," he said., Wonnacott said he wouldn't speculate on UFCW's reasons for sending the mailers, but he said whether or not the firm's workers unionize is up to them.

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