Report: Albertsons' Acquisition of Shaw's Surprises Local Labor Union

WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. - When Albertsons announced last week it would acquire Shaw's Supermarkets in a stock purchase deal expected to take place in the next 30 to 45 days, both analysts and leaders of the labor union that represents about one-third of Shaw's work force were caught off guard, according to the Providence Journal in Rhode Island.

A spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791 told the paper the organization "had no idea the sale was coming," while voicing concern about how the sale will affect the negotiations for some 30 percent of Shaw's 30,000 workers who are covered by a pact that expires at the end of July.

The spokesman said the union's rapport with Shaw's management has been shaky since U.K. company J Sainsbury PLC assumed ownership of the company in 1987.
The spokesman said he is hopeful that Local 791 and Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons will embark on a fresh start to avoid any potential labor disputes.

The report went on to describe the key issues surrounding the current tense labor climate in the food industry, which includes health care insurance and the competitive environment stemming from Wal-Mart's supercenter expansion plans.

In other Albertsons news, the company's suburban Philadelphia division, Acme Markets, began offering online grocery shopping yesterday. The region's market leader will charge $4.95 for pickup at a store or $9.95 for delivery in the five-county area. Orders placed before 10 a.m. will be available after 5 p.m. the same day, while later orders will be available the following day. The company pledges to make deliveries within a 90-minute window.

The move marks the tenth urban market to begin online grocery shopping and follows Albertsons gradual expansion of online shopping that it began in 1999 on the West Coast.
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