Smith’s and union fight heats up in Albuquerque

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Smith’s is set to appear before administrative law judge

By Garrison Wells

Smith’s Food and Drug Centers Inc. is scheduled to appear Oct. 19 in Albuquerque for a hearing on a bad faith bargaining charge by the grocer’s union.
Smith’s has two local stores, one in Los Alamos and one in White Rock.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1564, which represents about 2,000 employees throughout New Mexico, including locally, has been notified by the National Labor Relations Board that it will have to appear before an administrative law judge if it continues to refuse to provide the union with key information that could affect bargaining.
The union began requesting that information in February, according to a press release.
The union has also filed unfair labor practice charges against the grocer.
Union employees are upset that the chain wants to trim benefits at the same time that it’s financial performance has grown.
In the complaint obtained by the Monitor, the union alleges that Smith’s had gross revenues in excess of $500,000 for the one-year period ending June 10 and acquired facilites goods in excess of $50,000 from outside of New Mexico, and asked for the company’s expansion plans for the next three years and any anticipated changes of operations or departments.
Smith’s “has been failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith with the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of its employees …” the complaint said.
Smith’s must respond to the complaint by
Sept. 14 and appear at the hearing Oct. 19.
A Smith’s spokesperson could not be reached for comments. Management at the local store also declined comment.
Kroger, which owns Smith’s is the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer. It  employs more than 334,000 in 2,470 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states.
The Cincinnati-based company operates under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s. It also owns 779 convenience stores, 375 fine jewelry stores, 909 supermarket fuel centers and 40 food processing plants in the U.S.

Garrison Wells can be reached at garrison@