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FOOD LION CHARGES UFCW WITH LONG-STANDING CORPORATE CAMPAIGN

 FOOD LION CHARGES UFCW WITH LONG-STANDING CORPORATE CAMPAIGN
 WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Food Lion issued the following:
 John Watkins, senior vice president of the nation's fastest growing supermarket chain Food Lion, today testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Government Operations Subcommittee on Employment and Housing on the enforcement of wage and hour laws. He was pleased to have the opportunity to explain in detail how the company's effective scheduling program works in the field and what extensive measures the company has taken to eliminate "working off the clock" violations by employees.
 Watkins responded to specific charges by a former Food Lion employee that managers were "supposed to look the other way then (they) found employees working off the clock." Watkins emphasized that "'working off the clock' is strictly prohibited and violates company policy." He continued, "The company has vigorously enforced the policy -- to the extent of terminating over 20 managers within the past two years when Food Lion learned of the practice."
 "Food Lion could not be the nation's fastest growing supermarket and attract the 5,000 - 8,000 additional employees we need each year if we did not treat our employees well. Many of our employees are former union grocery store workers who decided to join Food Lion because of our outstanding employee compensation package. Our profit sharing/retirement plan, for example, is one of the best in the industry, with Food Lion contributing an amount equal to 15 percent of our employees' gross pay annually for both full time and part time employees working over 1,000 hours during the year."
 "Effective scheduling is simply our system of best allocating and scheduling hours in each department in order to provide adequate customer service and maintain proper store conditions. Most supermarket chains have some type of scheduling system designed to improve efficiency and customer service. Effective scheduling provides for performing all tasks in the store such as getting customers through the check out line quickly, restocking shelves, unloading trucks or preparing meat and produce for our customers."
 "Effective scheduling is real people performing real tasks. Effective scheduling standards are determined by watching and timing our employees in our stores perform these tasks. We ignore the time from our fastest workers and our new trainees and we then arrive at a reasonable time to complete that task. This method of allocating and scheduling hours allows us to schedule enough employee hours, but not too many, per department, to adequately service our customers' needs."
 Watkins went on to point out that Food Lion has a long-standing rule against employees working off the clock, with violations resulting in disciplinary action up to and including discharge, but that as with other union chains the problem has not been eliminated 100 percent.
 The company has implemented a comprehensive internal enforcement program which includes:
 -- Management reviews with new employees.
 -- Posting the policy on employee bulletin boards.
 -- Requiring store management, perishable, market and grocery
 employees to read and sign a copy of the policy every six
 months.
 -- A quarterly working off the clock newsletter.
 -- A special toll-free hotline so that employees can report
 possible violations anonymously.
 -- Articles in the company newsletter.
 -- Regular visits from regional human resource managers checking
 for any violations.
 The policy is also included in the company's Corporate Policy Manual and the Employee Personnel Handbook.
 Watkins also said that these allegations are the latest phase in what has become well known in the labor community as a "Union Corporate Campaign," pointing out that Food Lion employees, customers and shareholders have been suffering from the union's tactics since 1980 when the then-Food Town employees rejected the union. Since 1985 the company has been the target of many "UFCW Corporate Campaign" techniques, which over the past decade have included:
 -- Calling on consumers to boycott the store because "foreign owners" were taking money out of the country when, in fact, the overwhelming bulk of the money generated by Food Lion's profits was reinvested back into the company, and more than 30,000 of the shareholders were in the United States.
 -- Claiming that Food Lion paid substandard wages and benefits to its employees, when, in fact, Food Lion's benefits were not only very competitive but in some cases higher than wages and benefits in certain UFCW contracts in areas where Food Lion competed.
 -- Filing a lawsuit on behalf of a former employee who alleged top management was terminating employees to prevent their vesting in the company's extremely generous profit sharing retirement plan, even though the same year the employee was terminated, 3,600 employees did vest 100 percent.
 Watkins also said: "The unions want two things. First, they want to keep Food Lion's low prices and competitive stores out of their high-priced monopolized union territories. Second, they want out employees to give them an additional $10 million in dues each year. If our employees wanted to be unionized, they would have voted to support the unions when it attempted to organize them in 1980."
 Food Lion is the nation's fastest growing supermarket chain, operating 892 stores in 12 states. Annual sales in 1991 were $6.4 billion, an increase of $800 million from 1990. Each year, the company adds approximately 100 new stores, creating 5,000-8,000 new jobs. The chain is headquartered in Salisbury, N.C.
 -0- 3/25/92
 /CONTACT: Jackie Clark or Pamela Kostmayer for Food Lion, 202-223-6655/ CO: Food Lion ST: District of Columbia IN: RET SU:


DC-SB -- DC024 -- 1575 03/25/92 14:31 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 25, 1992
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