BOISE, Idaho -- The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union invoked the name of the late Joe Albertson three times last week in a letter it said it planned to distribute to shareholders at Albertson's annual meeting here last Friday.
Albertson, the company's founder, "the spirit of teamwork and esprit de corps that was Albertson's hallmark and [that] was reflected in quality service for our customers" has been replaced at store level by "hostility and mean-spirited retaliation."
The letter said the union's goal in trying to eliminate alleged off-the-clock work "is not to hurt Albertson's but to restore lawful and productive employment practices. We want to return the company to how it was operated when Joe Albertson was alive -- a company that was as devoted to its employees as we are to our customers."
The legal complaints the union has filed against Albertson's "are a final plea to change an operational philosophy that could ultimately destroy Albertson's trademark customer service, stunt its growth and stagnate our cherished profitability," the letter said.
It called on shareholders to "ask questions [and] demand answers from management and our union -- ... if not for our sake or the sake of your investment, do it for Joe Albertson's sake, because we are all his legacy."
In an unrelated announcement, Albertson's said sales increased 9% in the first quarter ended May 1, to $3.6 billion compared with $3.3 billion a year ago. Comparable-store sales rose 0.9%. Net earnings declined 3%, from $112.4 million, or 45 cents per share in 1996 to $109.3 million, or 44 cents per share, in 1997.