United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770 of Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit Monday against grocery corporations Haggen, Vons, and Albertsons, alleging the companies illegally laid off employees and reduced their hours, neglected to inform workers about job protections, and violated previously negotiated union protections.
The allegations come after Haggen announced ten days ago that it plans to close 27 of the 146 stores it acquired throughout California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada in the January 2015 merger between Albertsons and Safeway — 16 stores will close in California.
The lawsuit points to Haggen, Vons, and Albertsons’s termination of both disabled employees and employees with seniority, and claims that the corporations had planned to close and sell many stores shortly after Haggen acquired 146 Albertson’s and Vons locations. “The union believes Haggen planned all along to shut and sell those stores, thus deceiving their employees and depriving them of their livelihood,” stated UFCW in a press release.
At the beginning of the acquisition, between November and December 2014, Haggen offered existing Albertons and Vons employees the choice to remain at the stores they had been working at or transfer to another Albertsons or Vons location. However, the lawsuit claims, workers were incorrectly led to believe that they would retain their jobs, seniority, and all contract protections if they chose to work for Haggen.
UFCW Local 770 President, Rick Icaza, expressed his will to act on behalf of the affected workers, stating in a press release, “These companies have misled and mistreated their employees either through gross self-interest or gross incompetence, either of which is unacceptable. Real people are suffering loss of wages, health care, seniority, and outright loss of their jobs.”