Union responds to Haggen bankruptcy

Haggans01_15364108_ver1.0_640_480A deal that promised to put tiny grocery chain Haggen on the fast track to becoming a regional power has instead resulted in a train wreck.

The Bellingham-based grocer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, saying it would sell off assets and reorganize around its profitable stores.

The move came after Haggen announced it would close or sell 27 of the 146 stores it acquired from Albertsons and Safeway (the closures didn’t include any of the three Kitsap County Haggen stores). Haggen also sued Albertsons for $1 billion claiming the grocery giant sabotaged Haggen’s expansion effort.

All of this leaves Haggen’s roughly 11,000 employees in an uncertain position. It’s likely more stores will be sold off as part of the reorganization.

Hours have been cut at some Puget Sound stores, the Seattle Times reported. The company owes employees $10 million in unpaid salaries, accrued wages and overtime pay, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

According to statements circulated Thursday by employee union UFCW 21, Haggen workers found out about the bankruptcy filing from news reports.

Below are two statements from UFCW 21 responding to the Haggen bankruptcy. The first was distributed to the media, the second was sent to employees by union president Todd Crosby:

“For years, hard-working men and women in grocery stores at Haggen’s have shown their commitment to their job, their co-workers, the community, and this union family.  

“As difficult as this bankruptcy process is, our message to Haggen is simple – we expect Haggen to do what is right by their hard-working employees and their families. Haggen’s must never forget that these incredible men and women who do the work are the heart and soul of their stores. 

“They are not numbers, but real people whose work and dedication should be honored. Looking ahead, our union family will do everything in our power to protect the livelihoods of every member who is and has been dedicated to meeting the needs of every Haggen’s customer.”

And the message from Crosby: 

Dear Haggen Members:

The news that Haggen has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is incredibly difficult to hear and we know that it has caused you, and so many of your co-workers and your families, serious concern.

As difficult as this process is and may be, we are absolutely committed to keeping you and every member of our union family informed of what we know and what is happening.

It is quite clear that the Haggen’s management team have made some very serious strategic missteps, especially during its most recent growth. For decades Haggen and our local union communicated openly about the status and the future of the company, but that clearly changed with new ownership.

It is simply wrong for all of our hard-working Haggen employees to have learned about this bankruptcy filing on the local news.

With respect to the current bankruptcy filing, our union’s legal team and advisors are analyzing the bankruptcy filing to see what it means for you and your co-workers. As soon as our analysis is complete, we will let you know immediately.

We want to be very clear, our union contracts are still intact. We expect Haggen to honor them and we will fight to make sure they do.

As part of our efforts, your International Union is coordinating efforts for all of the locals up and down the West Coast, so that we have a focused and united response from our entire union family.

Going forward, we need to work together like never before to make sure that Haggen does what is right by you and every member of our union family. The simple fact is that your voice, your support, and the support of your friends and the community, is critical.

As we have made clear to Haggen, they have a responsibility to do what is right, and we will stand and fight for your hard-earned wages and benefits.

We will keep you informed of every new development, and we ask you to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you or your family may have at 1-800-732-1188.

Sincerely,

Todd Crosby
President

2 thoughts on “Union responds to Haggen bankruptcy

  1. I read this letter a couple times and to me it just seems like a computer generated letter to the Union Workers that is just trying to save face with them. And let me tell you Hagens face has alot of their expensive eggs on it. I have talked to a few people who have shopped at this store in the past and they have said that was a really good store to shop at, with pretty good prices. But then after Hagens decided that they was going to try a grocery take over on the West Coast, most people cant afford to shop there. I decided to go there once and I ended up paying twice as much on the few groceries that I normally would buy at Safeway. Have never even set foot back in their store. BUt I do drive by their stores almost everyday and it really seems like the stores are empty because there is not a lot of cars in the lot and Safeway not seems to be more packed. I wonder why. Hagens is just to expensive to shop at in my opinion. Especially in an area that has a ton of Military families and retired military who live on pensions. Now I know that most of those shop at the Commisary like myself on occasion, there are times when a family needs a couple things from the store and dont want to drive to the base and they are going to go to the stores that they can afford. And Hagen is just not going to be it. I do feel bad for the workers, because when their store was Albertsons people could afford to shop there and now they dont or cant and the workers do notice that and when there are no customers they know that their time is short. So the workers are going to suffer more that the consumers. But just like every other business who is out to make a huge profit for the board members, the workers are going to suffer. Good Luck.

  2. The Unions are an anachronism that only serve to take money from hard working people and give it to the ‘fat cats’ that the Occupy crowd is busy whining about. They don’t care about the workers, they care about the cut in their dues that line their pockets and support Democratic causes.

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