Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Bigg's says employees are happy without union




By Amy Higgins
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Bigg's employees aren't unionized because they don't want to be, says the supermarket chain's president and chief executive.

        Pierre Wevers defended on Monday the Milford-based company against union organizers' and civic leaders' claims that Bigg's is profoundly anti-union and pre- vents its employees from organizing.

        “The employees decided not to want to be represented by a union,” Mr. Wevers said, adding a union has not gathered enough support to ask for a vote in Cincinnati-area stores.

        In the company's only union vote to date, Bigg's workers in Denver voted against joining a union 10 years ago, Mr. Wevers said.

        His interview with the Enquirer came after Cincinnati community leaders — including the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Sister Monica McGloin — traveled to Minneapolis last week to lobby parent company Supervalu for a Bigg's union.

        They said the company offers a weak 401(k) and low health benefits. Community leaders said they previously had been denied a meeting with Mr. Wevers.

        Mr. Wevers said he turned down a group meeting because he wanted to meet with individuals or smaller groups.

        He denied that Bigg's benefit and compensation packages were substandard, say ing nonunion employees get more performance-based bonuses and other benefits, such as a tuition assistance program. Employee surveys also come back with high marks for morale, Mr. Wevers said.

        Bigg's operates 11 supermarkets, employs 3,000 people and has been aggressively competing with Kroger and other supermarkets in Greater Cincinnati.

       



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