NGA Calls For Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The National Grocers Association (NGA) has released a formal position statement calling for comprehensive immigration reform. The position, unanimously approved by NGA’s executive committee and board of directors, calls for immigration reform to be comprehensive, preempt state and local laws and include the following key principles:
• Border Security: U.S. borders must be secured and the rule of law must be enforced.
• Employer Verification: NGA supports mandatory E-Verify of new hires for all employers, at no cost to the employer. Employers must be afforded a strong safe harbor of protections in exchange for good faith compliance of E-Verify.
• Expanded Guest Worker Program: Expand guest worker program to include workers with skills such as bakers, butchers and foodservice, in addition to other low-skilled workers important for the supermarket industry.
• Path To Legal Status For Undocumented Immigrants And Their Children: Clear path that allows the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and undergo background checks and face penalties.
At NGA’s board of directors meeting in February, a task force of member companies was created to review various proposals and challenges facing the supermarket industry with the ultimate goal to develop a position on immigration reform for the association. The task force, chaired by board member Bob Ling, president and CEO of Unified Grocers, recommended a position in April that was ultimately approved unanimously by NGA’s executive committee and board.
“I appreciate the hard work of NGA’s immigration task force, a group that included representatives from both retail and wholesale companies,” Ling said. “Employers are facing an ever-growing patchwork of state and local immigration laws that further complicate a broken system. The lack of progress in developing an effective national policy has adversely impacted our customers, employees and their families. Now is the time to enact meaningful reform, and NGA and its members can play a key role in the process.”
“The immigration issue is one that directly impacts our industry,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. “NGA’s position takes a common-sense approach by addressing border security, undocumented workers and important employer provisions and protections. We look forward to working with Congress, the White House and other stakeholders to help pass comprehensive legislation that is inclusive of NGA’s position and the priorities of the independent supermarket industry.”
Lifeway Foods Acquires Golden Guernsey Dairy Plant For $7.4M
Lifeway Foods Inc., a leading supplier of kefir cultured dairy products, has acquired the Golden Guernsey dairy plant in Waukesha, Wis., to provide additional manufacturing capacity for its growing kefir-based business. The $7.4 million acquisition will add a 70,000-s.f. plant to Lifeway’s existing 50,000-s.f. facility in Morton Grove, Ill., more than quadrupling the company’s production capacity and provide needed expansion abilities.
The Golden Guernsey plant was shuttered in January following a bankruptcy filing, leaving 112 employees without jobs. Lifeway plans to reopen the plant this summer and rehire a portion of the workforce to staff the facility. The transaction is expected to close on June 10.
Lifeway’s growth has been fueled in part by the burgeoning natural foods movement as well as mounting awareness of the health benefits of probiotic products like kefir, according to a news release. Sales of probiotic foods and supplements jumped 79 percent over the past two years, settling at $2.25 billion in July 2012, according to data from natural foods market research company SPINS. Organic food sales in the U.S. alone jumped from $11 billion in 2004 to $27 billion in 2012, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, with growth in conventional grocery stores as well as natural foods markets.
Diversification of Lifeway’s product portfolio also has contributed, with innovations ranging from ProBugs organic kefir drinks for children to the market’s first packaged frozen kefir. The company’s newest products include freeze-dried Lifeway ProBugs Bites for infants, other new ProBugs varieties for older children, frozen kefir bars and a Greek kefir line featuring extra protein.
Food Lion Invests In 178 Stores In Five States, Hires 800
Food Lion said today that it has made significant investments in 178 stores in five states, including Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. To support these efforts, the company also created 800 new jobs. The investments, the Salisbury, N.C.-based company says, are based on customer feedback and will continue to position the Delhaize America-owned company for future success.
Food Lion reports its investments offer customers lower prices on 6,000 items throughout the store and access to quality store brand products at new lower prices, including the company’s My Essentials products. The company also says it improved its produce offerings as part of the “Fresh From the Field” initiative.
“Customers will experience better quality, enhanced freshness and expanded variety in Food Lion’s produce section,” a news release says. “In addition, Food Lion’s produce is backed by a double-your-money-back guarantee. Also, customers should have an easy and convenient shopping experience, such as faster checkout.”
A list of the 178 stores is available here.
To celebrate the launch, Food Lion is holding grand re-opening festivities at all the stores, including providing the first 50 customers at each location with a bag of free groceries today through Saturday, May 18.
The company also plans to kick off a week of giving by donating fresh produce and store brand products to local charities, including $5,000 to the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore; $5,000 to the Delaware Food Bank in Milford; $5,000 to the Fredericksburg Food Bank in Fredericksburg, Va.; and $5,000 to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. In addition, Food Lion says will continue working with these food banks in its ongoing efforts to fight food insecurity and relieve hunger in communities. By the end of 2013, Food Lion is on track to donate more than 245,000 pounds of food in these markets.
With today’s announcement, more than 800 Food Lion locations have received these investments, representing nearly 80 percent of its store base, over the past few years. The company launched 167 stores in the Raleigh and Fayetteville, N.C., markets in May 2011; 268 stores in March 2012 in Virginia, West Virginia and the outer banks of North Carolina; and 269 stores in its hometown markets of Salisbury, N.C, and Charlotte, N.C., in July 2012.
Food Lion was founded in 1957 as Food Town in Salisbury and has since grown to more than 1,100 stores in 10 states.
General Mills Honored Again On ‘Best Cos. For Multicultural Women’ List
“Each of us comes to work with a uniquely different perspective that is born from our experience,” said Ken Charles, VP of global diversity and inclusion for General Mills. “We find that a genuinely inclusive environment that acknowledges, respects and values those differences drives greater employee engagement and innovation. Supporting and valuing the talents and perspectives of working moms is critical to our workplace environment, contributing immensely to our success.”
This year marks General Mills’ 10th consecutive year on the annual list, and the company received special recognition by ranking among the top five “Best Companies” along with Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and State Farm. The full list appears in the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine and online at WorkingMother.com.
“The Best Companies for Multicultural Women know that a truly diverse workforce makes for an effective team, one that’s plugged into the needs and desires of its customers,” said Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media. “Grooming female leaders has become a crucial mandate, and great companies are simultaneously weaving diversity into their culture. However, many challenges lie ahead for all U.S. companies to build a pipeline of diverse talent to represent them at every level of decision-making and management.”
In this month’s Working Mother magazine, Eliana Wahnon, global consumer insights manager for General Mills, details how her multicultural upbringing has provided inspiration for her current role at General Mills. Wahnon also participated in a Q&A feature discussing the award and her personal experience as a multicultural mom on General Mills’ corporate blog, “A Taste of General Mills.”
The current issue of Working Mother also includes a company profile of General Mills, which highlights the company’s success in advancing women of color and its comprehensive employee resources including employee networks and mentoring programs.
Osco Pharmacists Negotiations Enter Federal Mediation
After seven bargaining sessions over several weeks, contract negotiations for 500 Osco pharmacists have entered federal mediation.
The last meeting between Teamsters Local 727 and Osco management Monday went long into the night before the decision to bring in a federal mediator was made. The Teamsters Union has represented Chicago-area Osco pharmacists for more than 30 years and, in that time, there has been no labor action, according to a Teamsters news release.
The company wants to force its pharmacists to work erratic schedules with 12-hour shifts, the release says.
“Do you want your pharmacists to be tired, understaffed and overworked when they are filling prescriptions for you and your family?” said John T. Coli, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 727. “If reaching out to the public protects our pharmacists and their customers’ health and well-being, then it is worth it to us.”
The union will be hand billing outside Osco stores to notify the public of the safety risks associated with forcing pharmacists to work 12-hour shifts with little or no break time, the release says.
“Pharmacists are professionals who are trusted with caring for and consulting the patients and customers of Osco,” Coli said. “Unreasonably long shifts and erratic scheduling could hinder their ability to do their jobs to the best of their ability, which in turn could affect their customers.”
Teamsters Local 727 represents more than 6,400 workers throughout the Chicago area.
Kroger Ratifies Agreement With UFCW 455
The Kroger Co. associates working at Kroger stores in the Houston area have ratified a new labor agreement with United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Local 455.
“We are pleased to reach an agreement that is good for our associates. It provides a solid compensation package of wages and benefits, including affordable healthcare and pension for retirement,” said Bill Breetz, president of Kroger’s Southwest Division. “This agreement is the outcome of thoughtful, respectful and productive work by both the company and union representatives. I want to thank our associates for supporting this agreement, as well as for the excellent service they provide every day to our customers and company.”
The three-year agreement covers more than 13,729 associates working in 109 stores in the Houston area.
Dollar General Hiring 10K This Month
Dollar General plans to hire 10,000 new employees in May.
The Nashville Business Journal reports that the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based retailer is hiring for positions within its stores and distribution centers. In addition to regional hiring fairs, the company will hold nationwide store hiring fairs on May 18 in all 40 states with a Dollar General presence.
“Dollar General is seeking to hire people with the attitude, aptitude and ambition to build a career with us and support our mission of serving others,” CEO Rick Dreiling said in a news release. “With growth and development opportunities, industry-recognized training programs and a culture of helping our employees grow and develop their skills, this national hiring initiative is a great opportunity for people to join the Dollar General team and to grow with us as we continue to strengthen and expand our business across America.”
PepsiCo’s Carey Ignites The Front Line To Drive Results
Though he’s trained in micromanagement, Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo, says that isn’t how he gets great results from employees. He shared his philosophy with the attendees of the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) 92nd Annual Convention, held last month in Palm Desert, Calif.
“I believe the most important person in the entire organization is the one that is closest to the customer—not the CEO of the organization,” Carey said.
The function of the CEO or senior management is to create an environment in which frontline employees can be successful. He admitted that typically the CEO makes a living telling people what to do, but Carey told listeners that the CEO should “get the heck out of the way and let them do their jobs.”
But that doesn’t mean to sit idly by while others do all the work.
As cashiers, route drivers and salespeople do their jobs, they sometimes encounter obstacles—an old, outdated cash register, for example—that make their jobs difficult. According to Carey, CEOs should make it their mission to “knock obstacles out of the way so that (they) can make as many of these people as successful as possible.”
He believes frontline employees have a better perspective on everyday business since they are “closer to the action.”
“I can knock obstacles out of the way—capital, spending, marketing, new products—but I really can’t tell you what price to put on your products in Los Angeles or in Phoenix. I think the people on the ground are much better equipped to do that, so my job is to come out and make sure I’m knocking the obstacles out of the way so they can be successful,” he said.
Carey cautioned that management does need to know when to intervene, such as when a team isn’t getting good results. But the key to getting good results is to recognize the value of frontline employees and create a culture of enthusiasm and confidence.
“You don’t realize as a key leader of the organization what a big deal that is to somebody. Now at one point not too long ago, I was at a fairly high level in the organization when the boss wrote me a handwritten note about something I did, thanked me for my leadership. Short five sentences.
“I stuck it up on my wall,” he said.
He hand-writes two notes every day to employees to let them know how vital and appreciated their work is. He got the idea from Craig Weatherup, who used to run PepsiCo. He sometimes sees a note he’s written tacked to a cubicle wall. Making sure employees feel valued is a “very small thing to do to make a big difference,” according to Carey.
Carey celebrates frontline employees
Another of Carey’s mentors, David Novak, chairman of Yum! Brands, takes empowerment to another level. In addition to listening to the complaints of managers and moving to improve operations during his work with the company’s KFC subsidiary, Novak rolled out the red carpet for frontline employees—literally.
“I went to a conference (Novak) had with the store managers, and he brought every store manager in from around the country, brought them all to Louisville. When they came into corporate headquarters, he had a red carpet laid out for them. He had a band that came in…playing music and celebrating them,” Carey recalled.
Carey devised his own recognition program while with PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division. The “Ring of Honor” includes 200 workers nominated by company presidents around the world. They are brought to New York City—PepsiCo is based in Purchase, N.Y.—and enjoy a top-notch dinner, a tour, business sessions and finally an awards ceremony in which they are presented with the Ring of Honor.
“These people are so excited about what they’ve accomplished,” said Carey, adding that when on market tours an honoree will sometimes flash a ring with pride.
“This is a big deal for them,” he explained. “You cannot believe the way they think differently about themselves when they leave there and they go back home and they perform at an even higher level—and then they inspire everyone around them.”
Encouraging confidence in the frontline employees can invite them to do great things. Carey told a story about Richard Montanez, a frontline worker in the Rancho Cucamonga plant in 1993. Montanez, who worked in sanitation, approached Carey during a plant tour with some products he thought would sell with the Latino population.
“Long story short,” Carey said, “Richard is the one that invented the Cheetos Flamin’ Hot product.”
Now, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have $450 million in sales annually, according to Carey.
When frontline employees are encouraged, their confidence rises, which is true for “young people especially,” Carey said. Confidence transforms employees into inspirations to their peers who create a positive, productive environment, he said.
“The No. 1 most important thing to do is inspire greatness in others. It is the single most important thing that will drive results in your organization and recognition is a big part of that.”
In the featured photo at top: Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, spoke on “Igniting the Front Line.” PepsiCo has acknowledged its best people for the past 14 years, awarding 200 team members across the globe with “The Ring of Honor” each year.