It appears there has been some back room deal-making between the United Food and Commercial Workers labor union and the California Grocers Association, over Senator Alex Padilla’s legislation, SB 270, that would put in place a ban on plastic grocery bags, and require a tax of at least ten cents on paper backs, the proceeds of the tax going into the pockets of the grocers.
The legislature and people of California deserve to know what the “agreement” is between the Grocers Association and United Food and Commercial Workers labor union.
First, the UFCW was in support of the plastic bag ban along with the ten cent paper bag tax. Then they were against it. Today, the UFCW is back in support of SB 270, but there aren’t any new amendments in the bill to precipitate a change of heart, making many wonder if a “side” agreement was struck between Safeway and the UFCW union. If this happened, shouldn’t members of the legislature be informed of the terms of the deal?
The UFCW pulled their endorsement because of concerns where the 10 cent fee would go, after making clear they would only support SB 270 if the fee stayed within the stores and went to helping the community.
Today, there is a new commitment to an agreement on this legislation. But what is the agreement? It all rests on the ten cent fee. Grocers stand to make $450 million to $700 million in revenue a year on this new paper bag tax. What was the deal? Nowhere in the the legislation does it outline such a deal between Safeway and the UFCW union.
The UFCW wrote on Aug. 25:
“We have serious concerns about the final language in SB 270 – there’s no enforcement mechanism to ensure the 10 cent fee stays at the local store and helps the local community. A serious problem among large non-union grocery stores who have a history of non-compliance and been fined by both state and federal regulatory agencies. UFCW is no longer supporting SB 270.”
“We will only re-consider our support if the 10 cent fee charge is eliminated.”
Today, Aug. 27, the UFCW wrote in a letter to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego:
“UFCW Western States Council on behalf of over 150,000 members and workers in California we have reached an agreement directly with Safeway Corporation that satisfies concerns on SB 270. (Please see attached)”
“UFCW Western States Council re-submits support for SB 270.”
In the middle of all of this was Safeway, apparently negotiating to give a big chunk of their new-found bag tax windfall to the union. However, if an agreement was struck between Safeway and the UFCW union, shouldn’t lawmakers know the terms of the deal — especially since the people of California are paying this fee?
There are more questions surrounding this legislation than answers. How Safeway can make an agreement with the UFCW union on the enforcement of the bag tax, if it hasn’t even been voted on by the legislature? How can they have already figured out how to spend the money, when it is not outlined in the bill? This is unethical and smacks of cronyism and back-room dealing, only adding to the cloud of corruption over the California Capitol.
The question remains, what back room deal was put together?
Of course, in the end, it will probably be the UFCW workers that get screwed. Because the grocers will be locked into a new scheme making huge sums of new found profits. And side-deals made in the heat of the moment in Sacramento will be forgotten.