UNION LOCAL PRESIDENT RESIGNS AMID TURMOIL
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 56 here has resigned amid accusations of financial improprieties at the organization. Anthony Cinaglia apparently used funds from the members' health and welfare fund to support the operations of the local, according to a spokeswoman from the national office of the UFCW. She said the union is more than $1 million in debt and is operating at a monthly deficit. The UFCW was considering last week whether to place the local into trusteeship, she said. "None of this involved any personal transgressions," she said. "They were just spending more than they were taking in." Cinaglia apparently paid his own salary from the health and welfare fund, she said, as payment for overseeing the fund. In a prepared statement, Buddy Mays, president, UFCW Local 27, Towson, Md., said the UFCW Local 56 health and welfare fund, in which his local's members also participate, remains solvent.
WAL-MART CANADA WEIGHS SHUTTING UNION STORE
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Wal-Mart Canada here said it is considering closing a store that is in the process of being unionized. The company said last week it sent a letter to United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 503 in Quebec City asking it to meet with the company on Oct. 26 to begin discussing a contract for employees at the Wal-Mart discount store in Jonquiere. Employees at the store, located approximately 300 miles north of Montreal, rejected the union in a vote last April; however, enough signature cards were submitted to the Quebec Labour Commission in August to certify the store as a union facility, according to Andrew Pelletier, a Wal-Mart spokesman here. "The Jonquiere store is not meeting its business plan, and the company is concerned about [its] economic viability," Wal-Mart said in a press release. "Wal-Mart Canada believes the unresolved labor situation ... is proving detrimental to improving the performance of the store, and the failure to begin negotiations is causing anxiety and uncertainty among our associates in Jonquiere." Officials of Local 503 in Quebec City could not be reached for comment.
COURT ALLOWS WASH. LABOR SUIT VS. WAL-MART
SEATTLE -- A court here has ruled that a class-action lawsuit here alleging that Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., forced employees to work overtime without pay may proceed, the law firm that filed the suit said. According to the firm, Tousley Brain Stephens here, the suit could include about 40,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees in Washington state. In a prepared statement, Wal-Mart said it "strongly denies the allegations" and has not yet decided whether or not to appeal. "In 16 of these wage-and-hour cases, the courts have ruled in Wal-Mart's favor with respect to some or all of the classes requested by the plaintiffs," the company said. "Additionally, we have no reason to believe that these isolated allegations represent a widespread problem with off-the-clock work in Washington."
ANNUAL SNAPSHOT SHOWS MODERATING DIETARY TRENDS
NEW YORK -- An annual survey of U.S. consumers shows most are beginning to reign in snacking, toss out take-out menus, and otherwise become more calorie-conscious. NDP Group's "19th Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America" found consumers are "beginning to find a balance between the need for convenient, inexpensive meals and their expanding waistlines," according to Harry Balzer, vice president of the Port Washington, N.Y.-based firm. The report found 27% of those polled said they were conscious of the calories in their meals, the highest level recorded since 1999. The number of snacks consumed did not increase, and the percentage of people reported to be obese held at 62% for the second year in a row. The findings indicate a new emphasis on balanced diets may be emerging "as we try to get control of our weight in this country," said Balzer. The survey also revealed the side dish continues to disappear from American meals; more consumers are concerned about sugar intake; and grilling food has reached an all-time high, 31%, up from 25% in 1994.