As seen in the Unity: Spring/Summer 2016 Edition
The Germans are coming.
Actually, they’ve been here since 1976. That’s when the Aldi discount supermarket chain established itself in the United States. Today, the non-union company operates 1,400 Aldi stores in the U.S., plus an additional 418 Trader Joe’s outlets.
Now we can expect additional German interlopers steaming over the Atlantic to our shores.
The latest news comes from Lidl, Aldi’s chief competitor in Europe, which plans to open 100 stores in the U.S. by 2018.
Like Aldi, Lidl employs a no-frills format that sells private-label foods at super-discounted prices. Shoppers pick their items directly from shipping cartons stacked on the shelves and then bag their own groceries. Lidl also sells name-brand merchandise at discounted prices.
Also like Aldi, Lidl is a non-union company — and this is where we have a big problem. Lidl poses more than a threat to union market share, which is crucial for negotiating strong contracts with our members’ union employers. It also poses a danger to the basic liberties of everyone in the industry.
Unions and independent media have, over the years, documented Lidl’s many violations of laws protecting grocery workers.
Lidl has used cameras to spy on its workers, maintained dossiers on their intimate affairs, tried to fire female employees who might become pregnant and forced workers at distribution sites to work on a “piece rate” basis.
Lidl’s managers have been forced to work excessive hours, without overtime pay, to stock shelves and perform maintenance duties that should go to regular employees.
In 2003, an Italian court sentenced Lidl for anti-union policies. Lidl has been criticized in the United Kingdom and Ireland for not allowing workers to join unions.
UFCW Local 152 and our International Union don’t intend to let Lidl get away with this behavior in the communities we serve. In the coming months we’ll be unveiling a comprehensive strategy to confront this threat.
Our success will rely on the participation of members like you. Please do your part when we call on you.
Thank you for standing strong — for better wages, better benefits and a better way of life.