TOLEDO, Ohio -- Meijer Inc. has been hit by a strike at four stores here that has resulted in union-related picketing at 14 of the company's other outlets across southern Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
The Todedo strike against the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company is being led by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 954, which is alleging unfair labor practices. The union claims it is causing business to drop at least 50% at stores in Toledo and 20% to 30% in other areas. In Toledo, the company has brought in managers from other Meijer stores as replacements and has also hired additional employees, according to the union. The picketing at the other 14 stores has reportedly not resulted in work stoppages.
Meijer officials could not be reached for comment. The four Toledo stores opened more than a year ago on a nonunion basis, but UFCW secured recognition and was negotiating a contract for the stores' employees when talks broke down, John F. Mulkey, organizing director for Local 954, told SN. According to Mulkey, the strike began May 7, a day after talks reached an apparent impasse. The union had tentatively scheduled a walkout for May 10, Mulkey said, but it pulled its people out of the stores three days early after Meijer management hired a security force -- a group of 6-foot-tall men dressed in blue uniforms with flak jackets and combat boots, he noted. The picketing in the other Meijer markets was in reaction to the Toledo situation.
Several issues are in dispute in the current strike, Mulkey said, including the following:
Wages. Mulkey said, "The company is offering meatcutters $2 an hour less than other operators in the area are paying for journeymen and apprentices."
Classifications. While most specialty clerks in store service departments are paid an industry rate of $7 to $9 an hour, Meijer wants to pay a top rate of $5.50 an hour now and $6 by 1997, Mulkey said.