Contact: Lori Willis
October 7, 2003
St. Louis' Union Food Employers Will Continue to Serve Customers During Work Stoppage
ST. LOUIS -- Following today's strike vote by Local 655 associates, leaders of The Greater St. Louis Food Employers Council (Dierbergs, Schnucks and Shop `n Save) are bracing for what could be a long work stoppage, a first among retail grocery clerks in the St. Louis area.
According to Council spokesperson and local attorney Michael Kaemmerer, all Dierbergs, Schnucks and Shop `n Save stores are open. However, Missouri, Metro area stores (no Illinois stores are affected) are observing abbreviated 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedules. All stores, including 24-hour stores, will close tonight at 7 p.m. and open at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Picket signs are now up at Shop `n Save stores, and as per the Council's initial agreement and, in support of their bargaining position Dierbergs and Schnucks have locked out all Local 655 associates. Teams consisting of store managers, office workers, vendors, friends and family members are currently staffing stores. Temporary strike replacement workers are being trained and assigned to sites.
Kaemmerer said, "This is, indeed, an unfortunate situation and we are concerned for our associates and for their families." He added, "Many people, we have learned, did not understand exactly what was at stake when they cast their votes this morning."
According to Kaemmerer, many associates were clearly under the impression that a strike would affect change in the proposed agreement. "The Council has said all along, this was our `best and final' offer. It is a fair offer, and we intend to stand behind it," said Kaemmerer, "We are disappointed that Local 655 leaders have wavered from their initial recommendation of this contract, which is a top offer by any industry standard."
Kaemmerer said all stores will continue to focus on serving customers. "In the weeks ahead, we are determined to remain open to service our customers' needs. It will not be easy, but we have prepared well," he said. "Hiring, for all three employers, is on- going, and temporary strike replacement workers are in place and serving our customers."
The grocery operators say stores have been supplied with additional stock and third party suppliers have been engaged. Kaemmerer added, "Council employers will closely monitor customer service levels, reassess weekly and make determinations on what adjustments must be made in order to maximize the effectiveness of our temporary work staffs."
In the meantime, customers will notice that some service centers have been temporarily closed and workers reassigned to more critical needs areas. Kaemmerer said, "We apologize to our customers for any inconveniences encountered due to these changes. However, we firmly maintain that we must remain committed to our goals so that we might have the opportunity to continue serving them in the future."
The Food Employers' Council has established a HOTLINE number for those interested in working as temporary strike replacement workers at any of the three companies. Those interested should call 314-692-6130 or apply, in person, at any store location.
The Greater St. Louis Food Employers Council was established in early 2003 for the purpose of bargaining as a unit. This is the first time all three employers have bargained jointly on a Local 655 contract. In early September, the Council and the Union reached a tentative agreement and Union President Bob Kelley recommended acceptance of the proposal to the more than 11,000 union associates.
The work stoppage affects 21 Shop `n Save stores, 55 Schnucks stores and 19 Dierbergs in the St. Louis, Metro Missouri area. (This work stoppage does not affect Illinois stores. Nor does it affect Schnuck stores in Cape Girardeau, Indiana, Wiconsin, Tennessee or, Mississippi. )
Michael Kaemmerer, appointed spokesperson for the group, is experienced in labor negotiations. He is a partner with St. Louis-based McCarthy, Leonard, Kaemmerer, Owen & McGovern, L.C.
# # #