St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Union members plan to increase their visibility outside more Schnucks stores this weekend to pressure the grocery chain to reverse a decision to lay off 190 warehouse employees in Bridgeton and replace the jobs with nonunion workers.
Teamsters Local 688 was notified on April 4 that 190 union workers’ jobs will be cut when Schnucks’ new distribution center in Kinloch opens in July.
Those jobs will be replaced by a third-party logistics provider, Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO Logistics. The nonunion XPO workers’ pay will range between $10 and $11 an hour without benefits, according to the union, compared with workers’ current pay of $14 to $22 an hour, which comes with benefits.
Teamsters members stood outside 16 stores last weekend with signs protesting the decision by Maryland Heights-based Schnuck Markets Inc.
“It will escalate this weekend,” Mike Goebel, secretary and treasurer of Teamsters Local 688, told the Post-Dispatch.
Goebel said union members would stand outside multiple stores throughout the region and hand Schnucks customers “palm cards” that they can give Schnucks management with a copy of their receipt and a message saying they’ll take their business elsewhere if the labor issue isn’t resolved.
A petition on the website Moveon.org that asks Schnucks’ chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck to halt the layoffs had more than 3,000 signatures as of Thursday evening.
On social media, Local 688 posted “Greediest Stores in Town” on its Facebook page, a play on the grocer’s “Friendliest Stores in Town” motto. Some union members have called for boycotts of Schnucks stores, but Goebel said Local 688 was not currently advocating a boycott.
“We just want to show how serious we are,” Goebel said. “It was a bomb when they said they were laying employees off. I hope Todd Schnuck reconsiders what they’re doing.”
Goebel said he had had no contact with Schnucks representatives since April 4.
Schnucks, which operates nearly 100 stores in five states, currently contracts with XPO Logistics to operate warehouses in Hazelwood and Vinita Park, the grocery chain’s spokesman Paul Simon said in an email, pointing out that 75 percent of Schnucks’ employees are unionized.
Schnucks said the new 915,000-square-foot facility in Kinloch was designed to be more efficient than its Bridgeton warehouses.
“The decision to change the warehouse was not an easy one; however, one we made to ensure continued growth for the company,” Simon said.
XPO, the world’s second largest contract logistics provider, operates 161 million square feet of warehouse space for hundreds of companies. Gary Frantz, an XPO spokesman, declined to verify if the union’s stated pay range for the Kinloch facility was accurate, saying employee compensation was confidential.
“XPO offers competitive wages and a comprehensive benefit plan which includes health, dental, 401(k) matching, vacation and holiday pay, as well as opportunities for incentive pay for all employees,” Frantz said in an email.
Applications for the Kinloch facility will be available for submission on XPO’s website in June, he said, and “anyone with the necessary qualifications is encouraged to apply and all applicants will receive due consideration in the hiring process.”