PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1444 has launched a consumer campaign to pressure Roundy's here to hire most of the union members employed at seven Kohl's Food Markets in Madison -- stores the distributor is acquiring from A&P.
The local also said it is hoping to convince Roundy's to remain neutral if the union attempts an organizing effort at those stores, which will become non-union when Roundy's reopens them under the Copps banner around the end of May.
Copps, a chain Roundy's acquired in 2001, operates non-union stores, while Roundy's other corporate store group, Pick 'n Save, is a unionized operation.
Roundy's said it has extended job offers to more than 85% of the Kohl's employees who have applied for positions at Copps, plus "hundreds" of other qualified applicants from the Madison, Wis., area where the stores are located. Roundy's also said it plans to add nearly 250 new jobs to the area when it staffs the stores, boosting the number of employees from 474 at the seven Kohl's to 716 at the six stores it will reopen.
Robert A. Mariano, chairman and chief executive officer of Roundy's, said all new hires will be paid competitive wages and benefits; in addition, he said Roundy's intends to match the prior wages for all former Kohl's employees.
Dan Welch, president of Local 1444, disputed Roundy's statement that it had offered jobs to 85% of applicants from Kohl's. "After talking to people at the stores, we haven't found one store where half the applicants have been assured of jobs," he told SN.
The union launched the first phase of the consumer campaign April 14 by mailing postcards to 20,000 consumers in the Madison area, urging them "to call Roundy's and ask them to hire all former Kohl's employees and keep the Kohl's family intact," Welch told SN.
The second phase of the union's effort, which was scheduled to begin last week, involved newspaper ads "that are designed to bring pressure on Roundy's to hire the Kohl's employees," Welch said.
Shortly after the postcards were mailed out, "Roundy's told us they would not remain neutral in an organizing campaign," Welch told SN.
Roundy's officials declined comment last week on the company's stance on any unionizing effort.
Local 1444 represents approximately 12,000 retail clerks in southern Wisconsin, including 400 at the seven Kohl's stores in Madison. One other union local will also be affected by the ownership change: UFCW Local 73A, which represents 74 meat cutters and deli clerks at the seven stores.