As the UFCW ends its 11-day strike against Stop & Shop, New England’s most unionized grocery chain, an underlying fact remains–most of America’s favorite grocery chains are union-free.
Over last the two weeks, Americans—particularly those in the New England area—may have noticed that there was a union strike taking place that involved 31,000 workers at more than 240 Stop & Shop grocery stores.
These days, with more and more Americans getting their groceries from chains that are not unionized, the public support UFCW strikers received was welcomed by the union and its members.
Despite the amount of public support the UFCW received in a region that has higher union density than most other parts of the country, the fact of the matter is, the favorite grocery chains that Americans prefer happen not to be unionized.
In a MoneyWise post entitled America Names Its Favorite Grocery Chain, based on a survey of 12,800 consumers, a list of 20 grocery chains are cited as being America’s favorites.
According to the compiled data, which was gathered by Market Force Information, Wegmans came in as America’s most favorite chain, followed by Publix, and the rest.
Although unionization was not a factor in determining America’s most favorite grocery chains, as it turns out, eight (8) of the top 10 chains, and 14 of the top 20 grocery chains are either entirely or mostly union free.
- Wegmans (almost entirely non-union)—Headquartered in Rochester, NY, family-owned Wegmans was founded in 1916 and has 99 retail stores employing 49,000 employees across six states, none of which are unionized. However, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters does represent workers in Wegmans’ warehouse and distribution center. As Wegman’s continues to expand, the chain is currently pushing into the New York City markets, as well as further South into North Carolina
- Publix (entirely non-union)—Headquartered in Lakeland, FL, Publix has over 200,000 employees and more than 1,200 stores in six Southeastern states. As the world’s largest employee-owned company, the company has never laid off an employee in its nearly 90-year history. Needless to say, Publix does not have any unionized employees in its entire company.
- Trader Joe’s (non-union)—Headquartered in Monrovia, CA, Trader Joe’s started in 1967 and is a privately-held company (now) owned by the families that own Aldi Nord. Trader Joe’s has nearly 500 stores and, as of 2017, more than 38,000 employees, none of which are unionized.
- Aldi (non-union)—German-owned Aldi’s is a growing chain in the U.S. Headquartered in Batavia, Illinois, ALDI now has more than 1,600 stores across 35 states, employs over 25,000 people and has been steadily growing since opening its first US store in Iowa in 1976, according to its website.
- H-E-B (non-union)—Headquartered in San Antonio, TX, with more than 110,000 employees and 400 stores across Texas and Northern Mexico, H-E-B is the largest private employer in the Lone Star State. None of H-E-B’s U.S. stores are unionized.
- Fry’s (unionized)—With its headquarters in Tolleson, AZ, Fry’s Foods is a 123-store subsidiary of the large, Ohio-based conglomerate The Kroger Co. The majority of its 17,000 store employees are unionized by the United Food & Commercial Workers—although it is unclear how many are actually dues-paying members as Arizona is a Right-to-Work state.
- (tie) WinCo Foods (mostly non-union)—Headquartered in Idaho, Winco is a 126-store chain with 18,000 employees spread across 10 Western states. Winco is employee owned and, although the Teamsters do represent some of the company’s employees, all of its stores are non union.
- (tie) Costco (partly unionized)—Headquartered in Issaquah, WA, Costco has 762 stores in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom and 245,000 employees. In the U.S., Costco has 527 stores and 135,000 employees. Although Costco is “union friendly” and has 17,000 employees represented by the Teamsters, a majority of its employees are not unionized, according to the Motley Fool.
- Harris Teeter (non union)—Headquartered in Matthews, NC, Harris Teeter has 230 stores and 30,000 employees mostly in the Mid-Atlantic states and Southeast. As of 2014, Harris Teeter became a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co. However, it is still non-union. “Kroger is deliberately expanding its non-union stores with the acquisition of Harris Teeter, and with this new tactic of building non-union Kroger Marketplaces, and then pushing loyal union workers out of town,” said Mark Federici, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 400.
- Sam’s Club (non-union)—Headquartered in Bentonville, AR, Sam’s Club is a subsidiary of Walmart. Sam’s Club has an estimated 40,000 employees and nearly 600 “clubs” across the U.S and Puerto Rico. Like its parent company Walmart, Sam’s Clubs are entirely non-union.
- Whole Foods Market (non-union)—Headquartered in Austin, TX, Whole Foods operates 470 stores, employing 91,000 people, in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The vast majority of Whole Foods sales are in the United States, however. In 2017, on-line retailer Amazon acquired Whole Foods. Although frequently targeted by unions, neither Whole Foods nor Amazon are currently unionized in the United States.
- Hy-Vee (non-union)—Headquartered in West Des Moines, IA, Hy-Vee is an employee-owned, non-union grocery chain that operates primarily in the Midwest with 240 stores and 84,000 employees, according to Forbes.
- Kroger (mostly unionized)—Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, Kroger stores are owned by the Kroger Co, one of the world’s largest food retailers. In addition to owning union and non-union subsidiaries, the Kroger Co. (stores under the brand Kroger) are heavily unionized by the United Food & Commercial Workers union.
- Food Lion (non-union)—Headquartered in Salisbury, NC, Food Lion operates more than 1,000 grocery stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states and has 63,000 employees. Food Lion is owned by Ahold Delhaize, the same company that owns unionized Stop & Shop. In the mid-1990s, Food Lion was a target of a United Food & Commercial Workers “corporate campaign” that resulted in the company receiving negative publicity, causing the company to sell or close stores. Although Food Lion sued ABC television for the reports and won, the case against ABC television was eventually overturned.
- ShopRite (mostly unionized)—Headquartered in Keasbey, NJ, Wakefern Food Corp., the merchandising and distribution arm for ShopRite, has grown into the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and the largest employer in New Jersey. Wakefern and ShopRite together employ more than 50,000 people throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, according to the ShopRite website. In New Jersey, nearly all of the stores are represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers, while the distribution centers are represented by the Teamsters.
- Meijer (unionized)—Headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, Meijer is privately held and has more than 200 locations and 65,000 employees. The United Food & Commercial Workers represents a significant portion of Meijer’s workforce, it also has non-union stores in Indiana and Wisconsin, according to the UFCW.
- Winn-Dixie (non-union)—Headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, Winn-Dixie has approximately 495 stores and 40,000 employees in five Southeastern states. Winn-Dixie is a subsidiary of SouthEastern Grocers. Although Winn-Dixie has had unions at various times in its past, none of its stores are currently unionized.
- Target (non-union)—Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, Target Corp. operates 1,844 stores, employing 360,000 nationwide. Although an occasional target (pun intended) of the United Food & Commercial Workers, all of Target’s stores remain non-union.
- Stop & Shop (unionized)—Headquartered in Providence, RI, Stop & Shop is a subsidiary of Dutch-grocery conglomerate Ahold Delhaize. Stop & Shop operates 400 stores throughout New York, New England and New Jersey, employing more than 60,000 employees, most of which are unionized by the UFCW and the Teamsters.
- Giant Food Stores (non-union)—Headquartered in Carlisle, PA, Giant Food stores is owned by Dutch-grocery conglomerate Ahold Delhaize. With 172 stores operating in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, Giant Food Stores’ 22,000 employees are not unionized, according to Monster.com
Below is a “boycott list” of grocery chains that the UFCW urges its members not to patronize. Several of the chains happen to be among America’s favorites.