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Union to meet with Smith’s over worker’s pay

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By Tris DeRoma

Representatives of the United Food and Commercial Workers of New Mexico and representatives from Smith’s Food and Drug are scheduled to meet Aug. 3 and 4 to negotiate a list of pay and employee well-being issues, according to the union’s President Greg Frazier president.

“We just got a bargaining date,” Frazier said Wednesday. They decided they are going to follow through, the parties will be meeting next week.”

Issues to be discussed include holiday and sick pay and a better wage scale, according to Frazier.

Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos employs about 200 to 300 union members, and there is a Smith’s grocery store in White Rock. 

Frazier said their contract with Smith’s expired June 9 but was extended July 24. Since that date, Frazier said they’ve been going from day to day, trying to get a meeting with Smith’s. However, Frazier also said he’s not very optimistic that a lot of headway is going to be made at the August meetings. The last time he met with Smith’s representatives, he said, was in May, and talks were brief.

Frazier said they have not yet moved into the economic issues discussion stage, as they’re still trying to settle the non-economic issues between them.

“I’m optimistic that my workers are coming in and making signs, and we’re preparing to take the steps we’re going to have to going forward, if things don’t start changing direction,” Frazier said. “I’m not optimistic that very much is going to happen, but we’re going to try and do everything we can.”

Frazier is hoping for success though. He said sick and holiday pay are issues the public should also be concerned about.

“People shouldn’t have to make a choice as to whether they should go to work sick or whether they’re not going to meet their bills,” Frazier said.

Since the workers are handling food, they should have sick pay, he said.

“Another important issue for us is securing holiday premium pay,” Frazier said. “These retail folks help us get ready for the holidays, and they don’t mind working on holidays. But, they should be compensated with some sort of premium for working on a holiday.”

Frazier said Smith’s representatives did not give a reason for the delay.

“As the holidays approach, I would think that would be more important to them to make sure they have labor peace and have everyone just focus on the holidays,” Frazier said. “The holiday season is their best time of the year. The

Thanksgiving holiday alone... that’s their Black Friday, that’s their big day.”

He also couldn’t explain Smith’s sudden reach out to the union to talk.

“I really don’t know, I would be guessing,” Frazier said of Smith’s delay and sudden about face. “I did everything within my control that I could do... I bugged and I bothered, and I will keep doing that.”

The Los Alamos Monitor reached out to Smith’s representatives for a comment, but Smith’s representatives did not return phone calls.

Smith’s Marketplace and Smith’s grocery are subsidiary of supermarket giant Kroger. Kroger employs 2,850 people across the state in 25 food stores and one convenience store, according to Kroger’s official website.

UFCWNM specializes in organizing grocery, retail, packing and process. It also organizes cannabis, chemical and distillery workers.