Fresh & Easy Comes to Costa Mesa ... and So Do the Pickets

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Fresh-&-Easy-storefront.jpg
"Sir, I'm asking that you don't shop here today." This seemed to be an unusual request from a Fresh & Easy employee near the entrance of the Tesco-owned market chain's latest store, which only opened an hour earlier along Harbor Boulevard just south of the 405 freeway in Costa Mesa. As he went on to say something about workers exploited in Nevada, I put up a hand, said "Sorry," and breezed into the packed store.

I normally don't advocate crossing picket lines but, fer chrissakes, they were selling sixers of Smithwick's for $5.99 on opening day!

After I managed to get out of the tight parking lot without getting fender-bendered by some old cuss, I caught a glimpse of the fellow and his partner, looking all dejected with their signs and stack of fliers. I'd traded solidarity with my brothers for two boxes of pecan and almond cereal for five bucks.

Thanks for the crappy economy, Obama!

At least I fired up the Interwebs when I got home to find out why all the holler. Fresh & Easy employees in Nevada, Arizona and California are airing grievances about working conditions as the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union tries to organize them. They call their campaign "Fix Fresh & Easy," which sounds to me like a vanilla rap trio from the '90s.

"All we are asking for is a fair chance for the workers at Fresh & Easy to create a better place to work and to make this company successful," claim the employees, who tie their well-being with that of Tesco, which is part of a U.K. giant that has struggled in America despite opening 175 stores the past coupla three years.

By the way, the fellows at the door wore black, as opposed to the Fresh & Easy workers on the clock in their bright green tees. If I spot them again when I go back Saturday, perhaps I'll buy them flavored waters to account for my sins.

What's that? Oh, hell ya I'm going back, with or without the job action. I forgot to pick up cat food.

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12 comments
Mitch
Mitch

The self-service checkout alcohol ban isn't being enforced even though it was signed into law by the Governor because of a lawsuit. Here's the details about it http://freshneasybuzz.blogspot...

Thedude
Thedude

Oh, and trust me when I say this, the employees I've worked work have no interest in joining the ufcw. Im happy with where I work and the benefits I get. Im grateful to have a job where I can have fun, wear jeans and a tshirt, joke around with my boss, and have a manager who works with my school schedule. Many employees were previously union members in other grocery stores and left for a reason. Example, my buddy who worked at vons for three years as a meat clerk told me he is much happier now and makes more money now. In the end, I choose wear I work, nobody forces me to go. Im in college and will be finishing soon and when I'm done I want plan on applying for a job at our home office in El Segundo.

Thedude
Thedude

I work at a neighboring fresh and easy, and can speak a little about it, I've been with company a couple of years and union picketers aren't too common here but I've talked to them when they are off the clock and most are not union members themselves. The ufcw will and has hired from temp agencies to picket f&e at new store openings. Most of the guys don't actually care about the union and will come in and buy a sandwich or drink when they are done. They were only at costa mesa from 10 till noon on wednesday.

JB
JB

And Matt, when you go back on Saturday, pick up some Chicken Tortilla soup.  Even though some published authors will like to remind us that Chicken Tortilla soup is not authentically Mexican, whatever it is, it is absolutely fantastic, and only $3.69 (or 2 for $6.00). 

Other recs off the top of my head: Lemon Cilantro hummus; Honey Wheat pretzels; Mesquite BBQ Chicken Breast strips, Apricot Pork Tenderloin entree (with couscous and asparagus, I believe).  The grab-n-go boxed salads are also reliably good, just eyeball them for freshness and seasonality.  Lots of other good stuff too. 

JB
JB

"All we are asking for is a fair chance for the workers at Fresh & Easy to create a better place to work and to make this company successful." 

The only problem with that statement is, the UFCW was trying to unionize Fresh & Easy about a year before they even sailed across the Atlantic to open their first 6 stores.  What a surprise that now, almost 5 years later, workers are "exploited" and there's an urgent need for organization. 

Anyone who thinks the UFCW saw a wonderful target to enrich their leadership in the global multinational corporation known across the pond as Tesco, raise your hands

909Jeff
909Jeff

A couple questions... Did you ask any of the employees if they actually want to organize? and did you ask the people outside if they are currently employed or if they paid for by the Union to cause a kerfuffle.... 

Also when you got your smithwicks how does that work now with the Cal ban on buying booze at the self check out? 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Thanks for the tips...

I really do want to go to a Fresh and Easy there is one within 10 miles from my house the only problem is I have drive past a Vons, Albertsons, and Stater Bros on the way to the Fresh and easy... 

Matthew T. Coker
Matthew T. Coker

 No, no and all the checkouts were staffed on opening day. Normally at self-checkout, it stops ringing you up once you scan beer, wine or booze and won't continue until an employee comes over, checks to make sure you're not underage and then enters a code so you can keep scanning.

JB
JB

Also the Black Bean and Brown Rice Tortilla Chips!! Can't get that at the Big 3 supermarkets or Stater!!

909Jeff
909Jeff

okay because I was under the impression that fresh and easy was all self checkout and as of Jan 1st this you you can no longer (at least arent supposed to) buy alcohol at a self checkout. 

http://articles.latimes.com/20... 

AB 183 

Sponsored by

Caballero - DCalderon - DHuber - DAlquist - D Ashburn - R (Token R)

And not surprisingly backed by the UFCW, AFL-CIO and Teamsters 

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Mmm, yes, because that won't be hacked in nine seconds flat.

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