Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

16 April, 2007

And this will help your case how?

I'll admit it. I have no idea what the UFCW is gunning for here:
The leading US shop workers union has sent flyers to thousands of homes in Phoenix, Arizona that suggest Tesco sells alcohol to minors. The leaflets, distributed by the local branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, call on residents to "protect your family" by urging the State Liquor Board to block Tesco's alcohol licence applications. The move is part of a broader union campaign to force Tesco to talk to it. Bob Grossfeld, of the UFCW, said Tesco's management was refusing to make any contact. "They're exacerbating the situation by simply being arrogant and rude. It brings into question whether they are going to be a responsible member of the community."

I know this is standard operating procedure for the corporate campaign: dig up dirt on evil corporation X in order to build up public support for a unionization campaign. Tesco certainly fits the bill as evil corporation X as they mull over invoking the Wal-Mart model of employee relations, but the dirt dug up by the UFCW in this case seems like it could backfire mightily.

My first reaction (placing myself in the position of Joe Sikspak) was, "Okay, Tesco may sell booze to minors, and this means you should have a union because...?" The logic just doesn't follow, in my head. I then read these two grafs:
The latest batch of leaflets went out last Thursday to homes in Scottsdale, a wealthy suburb which attracts the likes of Christina Aguilera for its nightlife and Kate Moss for its rehab facilities, and is host to countless Republican party fundraisers.

For Tesco, this makes it a perfect destination for its Fresh and Easy neighbourhood market chain, which is expected to spark a revolution in US convenience shopping by offering high-end ready meals and fresh food. It also makes the residents unlikely union sympathisers, hence the threat of underage drinking at the heart of UFCW's campaign.

Oh, I see, since Scottsdale trends Republican, make underage drinking a "values issue!" Shrewd, except for the fact that said booze will be peddled by, you guessed it, employees who might want to unionize. So are folks who are already predisposed to be against unions in the first place going to be excited that the people selling their kids bottles of Boone's Farm and Thunderbird will be protected by a union grievance procedure and just cause? Probably not.

Which brings up the obvious question: is the goal here to force Tesco into some neutrality agreement with regards to a UFCW organizing campaign, or is it to keep Tesco from opening stores in the Phoenix metro area? Because if it's the former, this campaign might have hamstrung their community-organizing efforts right out of the gates.

Am I missing something here? Is this a brilliant campaign move or a paint-by-numbers corporate campaign where they're flinging the first piece of poo they can find that looks like a winner?



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