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September 24, 2010

Update - Union says Trader Joe's is good neighbor

Here's some from an update to the posting I made Wednesday on Rochester building trade unions. Unions opinion of Trader Joe's has changed.

I have a full article in today's paper that is posted here.

An interesting side tidbit that came up with this issue is that top execs at Trader Joe's, possibly including the CEO, read this blog.

Who knew?

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Construction of Rochester's new Trader Joe's grocery store and Chuck E. Cheese pizza place is attracting the attention of the local construction union.

And that attention has been both negative and positive.

TraderJoesBags1a First, the Southeastern Minnesota Building Trades unions announced plans to start a protest Thursday of the construction at 1200 16th St. S.W., where Trader Joe's and Chuck E. Cheese are under construction side-by-side.

Both are expected to be completed yet this year.

The point of contention was that the non-union general contractors might have been paying sub-contractors wages and benefits below the AFL-CIO standard.

However, the general contractor for the Trader Joe's project quickly responded.

"We do use union subs (subcontractors) where ever we can," says Steve Schnadenberg of Indianapolis-based MDC Construction, who estimates that about 75 to 80 percent of workers at the site are union members.

He also says that half of the 15 to 30 workers at the site at any given time are from Rochester.

"Both of those contractors are not union. However, the one working on Trader Joe's is hiring mostly union and that contractor is paying the area standard," says Wes Urevig, who represents the building trades unions in the Rochester area. "It looks like they are being a good neighbor."

Comments

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If they're going to continue to get people to pay the silly prices for food that they do, they need to do everything they can to protect their image.

I'm confused. Yesterday Jeff posted a quote from the union rep Wes Urevig that said "The vast majority of the sub-contractors are also non-union. The SE MN Building Trades unions are concerned that the wages and benefits of the workers on those projects do not meet area AFL.CIO wage and benefit standard." Today a quote from the same gentleman says "... the one working on Trader Joe's is hiring mostly union and that contractor is paying the area standard ..."

What changed?

The more important question is: When will TJs open? We are hoping these contractors hurry along and finish up.

Allen,

Do you know anything about Trader Joe's?

Go to HyVee and price their food in their "organic/specialty" section and then compare with Trader Joe's. TJs is sometimes as low as half the price of other stores.

Sure, they sell some more expensive stuff. Who doesn't? (besides Aldi's)

Chris: Even Aldi sells some upscale items. You just have to look for it.

Allen: For many items TJ is extremely cheap given the choices and the quality. Sure, you might not buy your average can of sweet corn there.

My only wish would have been for TJ to be downtown rather - that could have been a true game changer. :)

Wayne, wild guess is he was talking out of ignorance and hadn't actually checked into it yet. Then he checked into it and realized his mistake so reversed course on the standard union FUD campaign.

Andy, I'm curious what difference you think being downtown would have made that would make it a game changer?

Jeff, TJ is a rather internet savy group (I know a couple folks that work at corporate there) so I'm not at all surprised that their senior folks are aware of anything that happens relative to their brand. My boss, who happens to be the CEO of our company often sends links out to the company when we are mentioned in some obscure news outlet in the back woods of nowherevile. (There's actually a service at google that they mail you daily updates of all the new hits on places that mention your domain in a way that google cares about... I'm sure someone at TJ's is subscribed to that service and gets the updates and makes management aware of the ones they need to be aware of.)

Oh, and +1 to Chris

PS. Aldi and Trader Joe's is owned by the same parent company.

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