Pressed further on the issue, Zelle says "they" were receiving complaints about only Bashas' baby formula, so there was no need to check other stores. She wouldn't disclose who "they" were.

Zelle's group, Interfaith Worker Justice, a national organization, receives lots of money from unions, including the UFCW. Government reports show that it got at least $338,000 in union contributions in the past three years. By Zelle's own admission, union money makes up about 30 percent of her paycheck.

She denies that the union dollars influenced her decision to investigate the single grocery chain, Bashas', targeted by the union. But when it came to questions about the UFCW's involvement in the project, Zelle's answers descended into a series of memory lapses. Zelle says she can't recall when she first heard of the idea to buy baby formula, when or who invited her to do it, who instructed her in how to make the buys, or where the preparatory meeting took place.

Asked repeatedly who led the project, Zelle says, "I'm trying to figure out exactly what you're asking. I know I'm being frustrating."

Zelle says she spent the entire day of the formula purchases with a teammate. But she says she can't remember his name, whether he was connected to the union or where the man got the money to pay for the formula.

Zelle was only slightly more specific during the July 11 press conference about the expired formula, in which she acted as one of the project's front people. The man she worked with was a "community member" and she had "no idea" whether he was reimbursed for the buys, she told the news media at the time.

The minister repeatedly tells New Times that she has all the answers about the people she worked with on the project written down in a notebook at home. New Times asks to see the book.

"I'm not interested in proving to you I have notes," Zelle responds.

Giglio eventually tells New Times that Zelle's partner was indeed a union worker, and that the UFCW paid for all of the formula.

Like Zell's Interfaith Worker Justice, Hector Yturralde's Somos America also receives union funding, Giglio says, though she refused to divulge how much. Somos America is, in fact, a coalition of groups that includes the UFCW, and the union allows Somos to use its facilities and other resources.

Yturralde's activist partner in Somos, former state Senator Alfredo Gutierrez — who has been at the forefront of union allegations that Bashas' is anti-Hispanic — has an even closer financial relationship with the UFCW. His consulting firm contracts with the union.

One of the union's key claims is that the chain's Food City stores have far more health violations than its Bashas' markets. After the union presented a report on the subject, titled "Is There a Double Standard?," to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in November, Gutierrez aired the findings two weeks later on his Spanish-language radio show on Radio Campesina 88.3 FM.

"There were 51 percent more major violations at Food City in 2005 than in Bashas'. . . and Food City is focused on our community, right?" Gutierrez said on the show. "We are talking about feathers, birds, mice; dead mice, live mice, and flies" at the Food City stores.

But the numbers are misleading, especially if other grocery store chains are considered — which the union didn't do. As the Bashas' lawsuit against the union points out, many Food City stores dinged by inspectors actually do better, violation-wise, than unionized competitors in the same Hispanic neighborhoods.

Inspection data on grocery stores by the county can be found on its Web site, www.maricopa.gov/envsvc, after clicking, oddly, on "restaurant ratings." The numbers paint a much more complicated picture concerning grocery store violations than the union wants the public to believe.

Illuminating are the most recent cleanliness awards handed out by the county, which reviews stores about every three months. If an inspector finds everything in order, the store and its various departments — such as the meat market, bakery and fast-food eatery — get a gold award. Major violations found usually merit a silver award or no award.

Using the award system, New Times found that Food City stores, indeed, get fewer gold ratings and more major violations than those carrying the Bashas' name.

But Safeway stores, as a whole, rated about the same as Food City markets. Using Gutierrez's logic, it could be argued that if Bashas' disrespects Hispanics, Safeway — and by extension the UFCW, which represents Safeway workers — are dissing everyone they serve.

Combine the Food City and Bashas' stores and you get percentages similar to the whole Fry's chain. In other words, overall, Fry's has about the same number of violations per store as Bashas'.

Certain poorly performing Fry's stores bring down the average — and many of those are in Hispanic neighborhoods. The Valley's three Ranch Market stores, often held up by critics of Food City as a cleaner alternative for Hispanic shoppers, fare no better on violations than some of the worst Food City violators.

It's not that Gutierrez is incorrect about certain problems at Food City stores. He just conveniently fails to mention the same conditions that crop up at unionized chains.

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20 comments
Fast Freddie
Fast Freddie

Legislation needs to be passed that limits informational picketing to no more than sixty days . The UFCW should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI for misuse of union funds and corruption . Their actions are becoming a national problem .

madmilker
madmilker

People in America need to realize jus what got America in this shape��cheap� yes so-call cheap items from a foreign land.

quote*Wal-Mart firmly believes in local procurement. We recognize that by purchasing quality products, we can generate more job opportunities, support local manufacturing and boost economic development. Over 95% of the merchandise in our stores in China is sourced locally. We have established partnerships with nearly 20,000 suppliers in China. *end quote!

Now! if there be 182 country�s making items for the world to buy and they have only 5% of the pie in China�duh! This company makes the nice people of China support their currency(yuan) by keeping it in their country working for the people there�. but with the �yuan� going up in value and the US dollar going down�all the foreign items that the American consumer buys thinking it is cheap has went up in price.

People�its all about the currency and to keep a currency strong you got to keep it floating around the country you live in so it can work for you. For the past 12 years all them US dollars are being shipped overseas to a foreign bank and with the American worker not making anything for the foreigner to buy the �we the people� have to turn to the �second� largest employer in America(Uncle Sam) to sell �we the people� debt in order to get all them dollars back!

50 years ago a foreigner would had given their left nut for a US dollar or a Hershey�s chocolate bar and today the same foreigner has got Uncle Sam and the American consumer by both all the while Hershey is moving the chocolate factory to Mexico. Wake up! America and think �MADE IN AMERICA.�

madmilker
madmilker

People in America need to realize jus what got America in this shape��cheap� yes so-call cheap items from a foreign land.

quote*Wal-Mart firmly believes in local procurement. We recognize that by purchasing quality products, we can generate more job opportunities, support local manufacturing and boost economic development. Over 95% of the merchandise in our stores in China is sourced locally. We have established partnerships with nearly 20,000 suppliers in China. *end quote!

Now! if there be 182 country�s making items for the world to buy and they have only 5% of the pie in China�duh! This company makes the nice people of China support their currency(yuan) by keeping it in their country working for the people there�. but with the �yuan� going up in value and the US dollar going down�all the foreign items that the American consumer buys thinking it is cheap has went up in price.

People�its all about the currency and to keep a currency strong you got to keep it floating around the country you live in so it can work for you. For the past 12 years all them US dollars are being shipped overseas to a foreign bank and with the American worker not making anything for the foreigner to buy the �we the people� have to turn to the �second� largest employer in America(Uncle Sam) to sell �we the people� debt in order to get all them dollars back!

50 years ago a foreigner would had given their left nut for a US dollar or a Hershey�s chocolate bar and today the same foreigner has got Uncle Sam and the American consumer by both all the while Hershey is moving the chocolate factory to Mexico. Wake up! America and think �MADE IN AMERICA.�

Eloisay
Eloisay

I HATE ufcw with a passion, all they want is money. They do not care about the workers. How can it be that the fail to even provide water for the canvassers that they pay to go and say all these lies while to are making hundreds of thousands each year. They are nothing but a business.

Matt Eugene Hood
Matt Eugene Hood

Dear Sir: The 46 million people who dont have health-care is because of the American corporation who are waging war against the unions. My Union Painters Local 130 was destroyed in 1981 in Freeport, Texas by Dow Chemical and the petrochemical industry who gave special privilege's to non-union contractors, who deliberately violatd the law by over saturation of the labor market with dirt cheap tradesmen who were not up to American standard, whom Dow and friends deliberately with malice towards organized labor since FDR and the Great Depression welcomed Mexican nationals with full knowledge they were from Mexico. In 1981 I went from $15 dollars an hour with full union benefits to $10 dollars an hours to work on a non union job in less than two months unless I left the state to work. I lost 60% of my money and wealth when the illegals were used to destroy the unions. I have lost $500,000 dollars and a retirement package that gave me heath care over a life time. I owe all of this to the illegals who have turned the high paying construction trades in to jobs that pay just a little over minimum wage, whom we have not have a cost of living wage in 15 years thanks to the illegal alien. They have turned Freeport into little Mexico. If I wanted to be surround by Mexican nationals, who can not speak English, I would move to Mexico. I love this nation because it is the Noah's Ark of the world. We have every nation, country, culture's, race and languages on this earth. America is the greatest nation in the world because we are a melting pot of the talent on God's green earth!Because of Mexico we are losing our edge in Gods grace in being a melting pot. Mexico is dumping its toxic waste of its population on my beloved country to absolve itself of its responsibility to take care of its citizens in a clear dereliction of duty to its citizens and the international community. America needs to send Mexicans back to Mexico with a M 16 with a 1,000 rounds so they can vote in Mexico city or voice their dissent with their corrupt government. America should help the 20-30 million illegal Mexicans citizens to overthrow the government of Mexico. American citizenship, unlike that moron who calls himself President Bush, our citizenship is not for sale for any price. Its was a gift to us and it is a gift to those who love this country who will die for this nation who believe in the freedom of our constitution and our Bill of Rights, and the rule of law. America is not an employment hall or office for the third world. If your reason for coming to america is for money then hit the road jack and dont come back no more and go to hell. Illegals aliens is treason in the making! To fly a Mexican flag on American soil is an act of treason. A person should be fined if they fly the Mexican flag or any other flag on American soil. It is the illegal Mexicans, who has made all of those, who work in the petrochemical industry a plantation of sharecroppers where all we have is a pay check; if we don't show up we don't get paid. The Mexicans has brought slavery back to America! They are creating little Mexico's all over America as if they are reclaiming this nation that was never theirs to start with. It belonged to the American Indians. My friends in the Indians nations whom I have worked with do not even want the illegals in this nations. Its not that hard to throw out 20, 30. 0r 40 million illegals. Congress can put a bounty on illegals. The states can rebel against the federal government for their failure to do their duty. The federal government is no longer a competent partner in the illegal alien problem who can not be trusted to keep their word; therefore, they have abdicated there right to govern on the federal level. The federal government has been castrated by people like Bush, who have robbed all the federal agencies of funds and leadership, to force amnesty down our throats for their dereliction of duty, who has made himself a god to rule like a king, who thinks he is above the rule of law. America does not need a king or a President who thinks he is above the law! The day America gets a King is a day we the people go to war. We in America must deport all of the illegals because their word is worthless. We give 20 million illegals amnesty they will demand that their family be allowed to come to America in a never unending cycle of non-refugee styled mexicans who think the Americans are punks because they can not say no to a bunch of ragged mexicans who will cry out racism or Hitler style police who are racist. If we dont say no now this nation will make it possible for this nation to elect a Adolf Hitler styled leader, who will say no with a gun and a boot. He will make all mexicans like the Germans did to the Jew's to leave America who have been here for the last 30 years to leave the United States. Don't count on Mexico to defeat this nation on the battle field. If America does not stop this clear violation of the rule of law by out elected officials, who should be taken out to the public square to be Cained for making our laws mute by our own law makers which is the greatest of sins. If our elected official show no pity for its own people why should we show any pity for them. In Bush;s world of you are with us or against us; it is clear he has chosen to be against the nation, Bush should be considered a traitor!

LETUS
LETUS

FUCK THE UNION.

Kitty Antonik Wakfer
Kitty Antonik Wakfer

Top notch investigative reporting and well written article. Some specific comments below:

"Another topic is the allegedly dirty conditions at Food City stores, and how such conditions symbolize the idea that parent company Bashas' doesn't respect Hispanics." Husband Paul and I have shopped in many Food City's in central Arizona over the past 5 years, mostly the larger one in Casa Grande, and don't find its level of cleanliness unacceptable in any. It's prices for produce are often the very best anywhere and they also carry some products not available anywhere else. Besides, it's the only store with covered parking!! And in the summer that's a real pleasure.

"Across the United States, labor organizations that have suffered huge member losses for decades have launched robust campaigns to increase their ranks...The unions figure if they can sully a business enough, its managers will let unions do what they want. " Definitely. And so what is a few lies to the union management in order to keep their numbers from falling any lower and maybe even gaining a few. This is how the union management want to keep and grow power as they promote paternalism - treating members as children.

"Local 99 dues now average between $27.65 and $47.88 a month, depending on a worker's position. Even with the lower dues, if Bashas' 14,000 employees unionized, the UFCW could collect $4.6 million a year. Local 99 took in about $7.5 million in dues last year, so roping in Bashas' would be a major coup." Just shows how union officials are out to line their pockets and have power - which of course they couldn't have at all if it weren't for many government laws. Unions officials use government enforcers to force the union into an employer and employee relationship.

"Also known as the card-check bill, the act would force employers to recognize unions that obtained a majority of workers' signatures, eliminating the need for a ballot election." Under what pretense did the unions obtain these signatures? Just because a person signed some union card cannot automatically mean that s/he would also vote to have union representation at the place where s/he works.

"But Safeway stores, as a whole, rated [in cleanliness by Maricopa County] about the same as Food City markets. Using Gutierrez's logic, it could be argued that if Bashas' disrespects Hispanics, Safeway � and by extension the UFCW, which represents Safeway workers � are dissing everyone they serve. It's not that Gutierrez is incorrect about certain problems at Food City stores. He just conveniently fails to mention the same conditions that crop up at unionized chains." Excellent demonstration of logic, which is just what the union is avoiding and appears to be discouraging in anyone it seeks as members. A reasoning thinking person would not be easily lead by the nose and would not enable the kind of shenanigans that unions have been pulling.

"Gutierrez and other UFCW advocates want the public to think they're objective, to a certain extent. They want people to believe it's credible that Bashas' is somehow worse than other grocery chains, that the assertion is based on reasonably fair research, and that a union would make things better." Excellent! That is exactly what is being done here and is the pattern of probably every other current union in the US and elsewhere.

I will continue to shop at Food City stores as long as they provide value to me, which they have always done.

-- **Kitty Antonik Wakfer

MoreLife for the rational - http://morelife.org Reality based tools for more life in quantity and qualitySelf-Sovereign Individual Project - http://selfsip.org Self-sovereignty, rational pursuit of optimal lifetime happiness,individual responsibility, social preferencing & social contracting

Michael Preston
Michael Preston

Wow. This is one of the most biased, one-sided articles I have ever read. I hope you're ashamed of yourself, Ray Stern, though I doubt it.

Monica Kopp
Monica Kopp

I think the unions are very unfair. It is obvious that they are playing dirty and really don't care about the people, but the MONEY! Thank you for publishing such an enlightening article. Go Basha and Milum! Hope you guys win!

marta
marta

u know if eddie bashas would stop selling out dated foods green meat people would shop there.

Kiki Dee
Kiki Dee

Food City workers won't write in to complain they were smeared until someone from the UFCW tells them what to say and gives them a free pizza.

ResponsibleWorker
ResponsibleWorker

Screw unions. Filthy, money-grubbing, self-serving communist bastards. Look at what they've done to Detroit. They can all burn in hell. They're a complete waste of money and they suck the lifeblood out of every company they touch. Fuck 'em.

SpeelChekr
SpeelChekr

Damn, Isaac! Get a spell/grammar checker. Thanks for propagating shitty language skills.

Isaac
Isaac

Talk about a smear campaign!! This article is like a smear book. I love it: the union is the self interested greedy bunch- which must be the case cause all those organizers are getting rich off this campaign right, and Eddie Basha- good old Eddie- is a humanitarian, a philanthropist, a saint who cares nothing for himself or his company but to make sure the community is healthy and vibrant. I am sure that he has never cut corners to make a buck! He would never put a shoddy stor in a pour neighborhood , after all his parents were immigrants.Finally, someone put the mean old union in it's place!! Probly didn't even make any add dollars by running this article right- just did it for the cause!! Bravo!!

Paul
Paul

You disclosed everything, but the facts. Why didn't you say that Bashas' lawyer Michael Manning is the same guy who represented the New Times? If you're going to be fair, you should lay all the information out there for us to decide. You trash labor in general, with no clear responses from the company. Come on are we still crying free speech?

jason
jason

It's so simple, these 2 unions, UNITE HERE and UFCW are about one thing, getting money for themselves. They're criminals that use on dirty tactics and try to intimidate small business and even the employees they're claiming to represent! I'm proud of companies like Bashas and Milum for standing up for themselves. This has nothing to do with immigration, working conditions, or pay. Both these businesses hire mostly immigrants, have fair to good working conditions, and both pay above the average! It's all about the union trying to get more money for itself! Free speech is one thing, but demonstrating in front of places and smearing a good company's name should be illegal! This state needs to police UNION activity because it's become the opposite of what unions were suppose to be about years ago (if they ever were good).

Good article,

EmployerReport.com
EmployerReport.com

As an Arizona native, transplanted to the cold, pro-union, socialist-run Northeast, this is an excellent article on exposing the UFCW's smear campaign against a great Arizona company.

One minor correction. Unions currently do win nearly 60% of all National Labor Relations Board-conducted election--even with the so-called obstacles they face. And they have been for the last several year. The union tripe you hear about card-check is just that--tripe. The problem for today's unions is that they don't want any opposition--including from their own workers...

The UFCW, for example, has been proven time and time again to be hypocritical on the issue of secret-ballot elections. They attack companies for not abrogating their employees right to vote, then don't conduct card-check when their own union workers want to unionize.

Last November, for example, the UFCW's own union organizers working out of the unions Washington, DC headquarters, had to file a petition with the NLRB to hold a secret-ballot election (apparently, no card-check was granted to them by their union employer).

http://employerreport.blogspot...

BUT, the story gets worse for the UFCW:

The UFCW is a union that like to portray itself as a friend of the working class, but it's really a union of double standards and hypocrisy.

In 2007, office staff who work at UFCW local 832 went out on strike against their employer�the United Food & Commercial Workers. The workers� strike against the UFCW lasted for five weeks and ended with a four-year wage freeze. Then, according to the Winnipeg Sun:

"[UFCW]Management gloated on its website following the strike, boasting that they got employees to "accept less" in the new deal. Talk about adding salt to the wound."

"The organization even suggested it would start cutting staff and has already fired one worker who was on the picket line -- a move workers say is pure intimidation."

"One good thing that did come from this strike is that we know how to make this(organization) run more efficiently and we've realized we don't need the amount of staff that we have," the president of the [UFCW] said on the website."

On Feb. 28, 2007, UFCW Local 791 bosses in Massachusetts engaged in a mass firing of nearly 40% its own union staff. The surprise firings shocked the union business agents who were fired "at will" with apparently no warning, prompting them to write in a letter to the UFCW membership:

"We are sure that the membership, as well as us, never thought that a �labor organization� would treat its own members (or staff employees) like this. Apparently, the quote �an injustice to one, is an injustice to all� doesn�t apply to �all� of us."

There you have it: UFCW bosses forcing their own employees on strike; UFCW bosses bragging about getting their own workers to accept less; and UFCW bosses firing their own employees for no apparent reason.

Arizonans deserve better than the scum from the UFCW.

Yours in spirit,

EmployerReport.com

Tina
Tina

Seriously, great piece on the union. You said you talked to workers what were their issues?

howard
howard

If they don't like the way they have been treated, go somewhere else. They get treated like that because they are illegal and that is what some companies want. They will put another illegal there if you don't like it. Till at least we stop it all together. Legal or not at all.

 
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