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Latest News - August 2012

August 20, 2012
Raley's to close Pittsburg, Woodland stores
Source: The Sacramento Bee
By: Mark Glover

West Sacramento-based Raley's is shedding more Northern California stores.
Raley's, which has been trying to cut costs and get concessions from unionized employees in an increasingly competitive supermarket environment, said Friday that it will close its Raley's store at 1375 Buchanan Road in Pittsburg and a Bel Air grocery at 1885 E. Gibson Road in Woodland in mid-October.

Raley's spokesman John Segale said that about 60 to 70 workers are employed at the Pittsburg store and 70 in Woodland. He said not all will be laid off, and some may have transfer opportunities based on seniority.

A company statement said: "The decision to close the stores was made following a review by the company to identify stores where future sales would not be able to match increasing operating costs.
"Clearly, the key to reducing costs is concluding our negotiations with the union. We must reduce our operating costs as quickly as possible so that we can effectively compete and continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products at the most affordable price."

Raley's and other grocers in Northern California have bemoaned the difficulty of competing against nonunion grocery chains that pay lower wages. The West Sacramento grocer has been in prolonged talks as it seeks to get concessions from the United Food and Commercial Workers.
Calling Raley's announcement an "unfortunate decision," UFCW Local 8 President Jacques Loveall said in an email: "It is not uncommon, especially during prolonged negotiations, for an employer to close stores and then blame the union. It is a negotiating tactic often used to try to pressure workers into settling for a sub-par agreement."

In March, Raley's announced that it would close a Raley's in Rancho Cordova and a Nob Hill Foods store in Milpitas. Earlier it announced the closure of a Bel Air store in Elk Grove and a Raley's supermarket in Modesto.

Last November, a North Highlands Raley's slated to close was converted to a Food Source, the grocer's discount warehouse brand.

In contrast, nonunion Wal-Mart is expanding in the Sacramento region with the planned opening of multiple Neighborhood Market stores in September.
For Raley's, the negotiating tug of war continues.

Company spokesman Segale said Friday that contract talks with the union are approaching a one-year anniversary, "and we must get an agreement soon. Had we been able to reach an agreement last December or January, one or both of these stores would not be closing now."
He said repeated requests to restart negotiations have been "ignored."

UFCW's Loveall, however, said Raley's management "summarily rejected our offer in June to simplify the negotiating process and achieve a quick solution. We are eager to return to the bargaining table."
Raley's also said Friday that the Aisle 1 Fuel Station at the Bel Air in Woodland will remain in operation after the store closure, and customers can continue to earn fuel rewards at nearby Raley's and Bel Air locations.



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