Published on: March 7, 2007The Financial Times reports that organized efforts to slow or halt Tesco’s development plans in the US could, if successful, cost the British retailer as much as $50 million (US).
The efforts appear to be the work of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which objects to the possibility that Tesco’s planned stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada may not be unionized.
An organization called Health First, which purportedly represents local residents concerned about air quality, has filed two different lawsuits seeking a restraining order that would not only halt Tesco’s work on a distribution center in Riverside, California, but could even force it to undo work already completed. The first request for an injunction was denied, but the second has not yet been ruled upon.
However, as FT writes, Health First “is not known to other local environmentalists and is believed to have been established with the sole purpose of challenging the Tesco project. Tesco has requested information on Health First from its lawyers, Johnson & Sedlack, but has told the court it had received in reply ‘blanket objections and refusals to provide information or documents’.”
Such an approach would not be out of character for the UFCW. MNB reported earlier this week that the union was distributing leaflets in Arizona trying to rally community support for a court ruling that would prevent Tesco from selling alcohol in its stores there, but the leaflets made no mention of the UFCW’s involvement. Mike Vespoli, a spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99.” Vespoli says that it is the UFCW’s intention “to challenge (Tesco) every step of the way."
Tesco reportedly has secured leases for more than 70 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, which it plans to start opening during the second half of the year.
- KC's View:
- This is such a crock.
The UFCW should wait for the stores to open, find out what the employees are being paid, and then – if wages and benefits are deemed unsuitable – try to organize Tesco’s employees. And the environment should be such that there is no coercion on either side – just a fair vote on the issue. (Fat chance, eh?)
But trying to stop the company now, before any of the store employees are hired or on the payroll, just seems a little premature.
We do think that what appears to be UFCW deception is completely over the line. Health First? Don’t think so. The UFCW puts its own political future first, before even the needs and interests of the working class.
(Excellent work, by the way, by the Financial Times, which has been all over the Tesco story.)