Passersby traveling North Main Street in Bel Air during the last few weeks may have noticed the team of sign-wavers lined up in front of Klein’s ShopRite.
This is not a holiday wecolming committee hired by the grocery store; they are not collecting donations for charity or selling Girl Scout cookies. The signs implore patrons not to buy their groceries at Klein’s ShopRite on behalf of a local union – protesting the fact that Klein’s ShopRite does not operate with a union contract.
Klein’s ShopRite media contact Michael I . Blum explained the situation on Sunday morning:
Since late November, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 27, has been holding a informational action at the Klein’s ShopRite grocery store on North Main Street in Bel Air. We understand that those taking part in the action are not employees of Klein’s ShopRite, but have been hired by the union for this.
Klein’s ShopRite respects the right of the UFCW to engage in an informational action on the public sidewalks around the store. We have no idea why they are there, except of course for the fact that Klein’s ShopRite does not have a union contract.
However, very few food purveyors or grocers in Bel Air or Harford County as a whole have union contracts — those food purveyors that do NOT have labor contracts include Food Lion, Weis, Redners, Target, Walmart, Mars, Wawa, Wegman’s, BJ’s and Royal Farm Stores — not to mention food sellers such as McDonald’s or Burger King. Since those stores greatly outnumber ShopRite in size and number, it is unclear why the UFCW chose a 49,000 sq. ft. store on Main Street to be the locus of its informational activity.
We are not aware of any pending claims by either current or past employees against the Company alleging workplace harassment, a failure to pay back wages, or unfair labor practices. We believe our wages to be very competitive with every other ShopRite supermarket, and every other supermarket chain. Klein’s ShopRite offers health insurance benefits with comprehensive coverage, at generally affordable rates, to both full- and qualified part-time employees. More than 50% of the Company’s employees are currently enrolled as full-time beneficiaries under the plan, which is a very high full-time coverage ratio for this industry.
Perhaps as a result of our good business practices, we have one of the lowest unemployment insurance assessments in Maryland for our industry. We have one of the lowest workers compensation insurance policy models in all of ShopRite (almost 300 stores!), and indeed in the entire supermarket industry. We have a very good record of compliance with Federal and State regulations, including health and safety laws.
We are working very hard to remain competitive in today’s very challenging marketplace, to build on our recent successful transition to becoming a part of the Wakefern Food Corporation cooperative (ShopRite), and to protect our employees’ livelihoods and job security. We operate good, clean grocery stores, and we believe our low prices and the high quality of the products we sell speak for themselves.