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FOOD LION RAISES CONCERNS OVER CREDIBILITY OF TESTIMONY AT LABOR HEARING

 FOOD LION RAISES CONCERNS OVER CREDIBILITY OF TESTIMONY
 AT LABOR HEARING
 SALISBURY, N.C., Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Food Lion issued the following:
 Reacting to information obtained immediately after Tuesday's congressional hearing before Rep. Tom Lantos' (D-Calif.) oversight subcommittee, a representative of Food Lion, Inc., stated that Lantos may have unwittingly been a victim of United Food and Commercial Workers' Union (UFCW) manipulation. Vice President Vince Watkins of Food Lion, Inc., remarked that Lantos apparently was misled when he stated that an inflammatory letter from the Baker brothers, two disgruntled Food Lion employees, had only been available at the opening of the hearing, and that the testimony had no connection with the activities of the United Food and UFCW labor union. The UFCW has been conducting an eight-year, multimillion dollar campaign to unionize Food Lion employees, who have overwhelmingly rejected UFCW unionization.
 "When we found the letter in the UFCW press packet, which had obviously been prepared in advance, we knew the subcommittee had been misled into believing that the letter had no UFCW connection," stated Watkins, who continued, "We are not surprised that the UFCW is behind this, but we do regret the ease with which the subcommittee was apparently manipulated. Once again it shows the extraordinary measures the UFCW is willing to go to to assure that areas like the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., market continue to sell the highest priced groceries in the continental U.S."(A).
 On Tuesday, Food Lion Senior Vice President John Watkins testified before the Employment and Housing Subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee, which is chaired by Lantos, who read into the record the Baker brothers' lengthy letter detailing alleged wage abuses by Food Lion. Lantos stated that Food Lion had not been provided with a copy of the letter in advance because it had only been handed to him at the start of the hearing by its alleged authors -- two brothers who are meat department managers in two North Carolina Food Lion stores.
 Lantos reacted with outrage when John Watkins noted that the letter could easily have been produced with UFCW involvement. But copies of the letter were being distributed before the hearing in a UFCW/C.U.E. press packet. C.U.E., which stands for "Consumers United with Employers," is a union-funded lobbying group which was formed specifically to aid the UFCW in unionizing Food Lion.
 "This is a repeat of what happened in March," stated Vince Watkins, referring to an earlier, March 25 subcommittee hearing. At that time, witnesses who testified against Food Lion before the Lantos subcommittee declared that the UFCW had no involvement in their appearance and remarks. This was undercut by the prepared testimony of four current and former Food Lion employees, which was printed on union stationery, a fact noted at the hearing by subcommittee member Rep. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). The Baker brothers were available before and after the hearing for the media, but not available to be sworn in and questioned before members of Congress on the committee.
 "Food Lion was sworn in, and we have to tell the truth. The same standard should apply to the Baker brothers' letter which was submitted for the official record before Rep. Lantos' subcommittee," concluded Vince Watkins.
 (A) Supermarket News
 -0- 9/23/92
 /CONTACT: Jackie Clark or Pamela Kostmayer-Jones for Food Lion, 703-519-0800/ CO: Food Lion, Inc.; United Food and Commercial Workers ST: North Carolina IN: RET SU:


KD -- DC023 -- 2777 09/23/92 16:04 EDT
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Date:Sep 23, 1992
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