Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 3, 2015

Grocery store blues

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

So tonight’s City Council meeting should end a lot faster than the previous two because there’s not much there, there.  A lot of the agenda items are items that were continued from the meeting on January 20.  This includes  a lot of financial updates like quarterly sales tax reports etc.

The only kind of, sort of interesting thing comes in the form of a Council Referral from Councilmember Jim Oddie who is trying to hold the record of the most Council Referrals ever in the first two months of holding office.  This Council Referral is modeled on some Los Angeles ordinance which essentially says that if a grocery store is sold then the new grocery store owners has to offer those workers jobs at the new grocery store.

It’s an interesting ordinance to offer at this time because we haven’t seen a lot, if any, grocery store in Alameda change hands like that recently.  I’m guessing that this may be a safety net for the Lucky’s employees in the case that the new Alameda Landing Safeway manages to draw enough customers away from Lucky that there becomes a need to shut down that store.  Of course, both Lucky and Safeway are owned by the same private equity group so it could be — as someone once mentioned here before — that the private equity group will opt to keep that Lucky open regardless of sales in order to prevent a true competitor from moving into that space.

So anyway this Council Referral would protect the jobs of the workers at existing grocery stores if the stores changed owners.  There’s an attachment to a Los Angeles ordinance which includes offer expiration dates etc.  Naturally the Los Angeles ordinance faced a lawsuit and eventually was upheld by the California Supreme Court.  It appears, based on the skimming I did about the LA ordinance that it was largely in response to the purchase of Albertsons many moons ago.

It’s not 100% clear how this would work if the grocery store changed hands between an union grocery store to one that would be non-union, like, say a 99 Ranch or a Trader Joe’s .  It’s also not clear how practical this ordinance is and if it has been useful in other cities.  I can’t find any reference to it being used negatively or positively.

Anyway, speaking of Council Referrals, can we get a Referral to move forward with Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft’s idea to make all agenda items from all members of the City Council (even the Mayor) go through the Referral process?



  1. Lucky’s and Safeway are not owned by the same Group. Lucky’s is currently owned by Save Mart. Safeway is owned by Cerberus Capital Management who also owns Albertsons. Cerberus Capital Management purchased Albertson’s and then spun off the stores in Northern CA and Nevada to Save Mart which resurrected the Lucky’s name.

    Comment by frank m — February 3, 2015 @ 8:02 am

  2. Lauren, doesn’t the ordinance apply to stores in the same building? Even if it’s obvious Lucky folds because of impact of Safeway, Safeway has to do new hires to open first and then if this is going to apply to actual neighboring businesses as you seem to imply, how far apart can they be? You can’t apply this to Southshore and Bridge side can you?

    Has the existing referral system for mayor been a problem in the past? I think Trish is mostly about her and not maximizing democratic government as her rhetoric implies, so I imagine she will fight this. She already defended it in response to Marilyn raising the issue ( “It’s my understanding that this is the way it has always been done.” -at least an accurate paraphrase) I’m all for rubbing her contradictions in her face, but on the other hand, with Trish, why create another disagreement? Unless her actions become so autocratic that it’s problematic, is it worth the bother? Also, is this a charter issue and what does it take to change the charter, ballot of voters or can it be done by vote of council ? Have to say I like the irony of using referral to mess with mayor’s referral since she seems so hot to use them.

    Comment by MI — February 3, 2015 @ 8:03 am

  3. According to this press release Cerebus owns the Lucky brand too under the Albertsons company. But they don’t own the Northern California and Nevada stores? So confusing. Maybe this referral actually is a good idea considering the crazy ownership and sales of these stores.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 3, 2015 @ 8:44 am

  4. I learn something new every time I read this. Thanks Lauren..a community resource.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — February 3, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  5. Lauren it is very confusing!!!! Here is the link re :Save Mart. The ironic thing is that Grocery Outlet at one point tried to claim the Lucky name as it had disappeared for years from mergers and buyouts from Alpha Beta and then Albertsons. The case went to Court and Grocery Outlet lost.

    Comment by frank m — February 3, 2015 @ 9:00 am

  6. I’m totally against the city council getting involved in labor union issues. The grocery store ordinance is just the camel getting his nose under the tent in order to eventually require all businesses to fall under its purview and virtually let all the union inmates (not just the United Food and Commercial Workers union) run the asylum.

    This should be a labor/management issue not a city of Alameda issue.

    Comment by jack — February 3, 2015 @ 10:23 am

  7. I went to Luckys to use the BofA ATM today and the place was practically empty.

    Comment by Jake — February 3, 2015 @ 5:17 pm

  8. It is just as inaccurate to say Safeway and Lucky are both owned by Cerberus as it is to say there haven’t been many stores that have changed hands on the island. In the past fifteen years or so Luckys was purchased by Albertsons of Boise (1999), then by Cerberus-Supervalu (2006-resulting in 46 store closures in Northern California announced three days after the sale) then spun off to Save Mart which rebannered them as Luckys. Encinal Market which was owned by the Wendling family is now owned by Joe Trimble. Chestnut Encinal Market has changed hands several times since it was operated by the Snow, Scalise and Chaix families. Safeway, of course, which was locally owned, was taken over by venture capital firm KKR and then taken public by group led by Steve Burd a former KKR exec. So there have been lots of changes in ownership in Alameda grocery created by national, regional and local factors. Each one of these changes in ownership has caused consternation for the workers involved. Not knowing whether you’ll have a job the next day because an ownership change, that in most cases workers the suspected might be in the offing but had no concrete proof of, takes a real toll on the employees and their families.

    Councilman Oddie’s referral is a modest proposal. It applies to union and non-union stores. It will apply to the members that my union has the honor to represent at Luckys in Marina Village and it will apply to the workers at Trader Joes, Target & the Marketplace. One of the reasons that this is a matter of public policy and not collective bargaining is because if it were a “labor-management” issue as number six wishes it were and was only considered within the confines of union contracts it would not apply to non-union stores buying non-union stores, non-union stores buying union stores, union stores buying non-union stores or a union store buying a union store where specific language was not present in that particular contract.

    This ordinance will give workers some breathing room when they face being fired by a new owner. That’s the bottom line and we should all have some empathy for people in that position.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — February 3, 2015 @ 11:13 pm

  9. Why stop at grocery stores? There are numerous employees that need breathing room when they face being fired when a business changes owners.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — February 4, 2015 @ 7:32 am

  10. good reason to have unions.

    Comment by John P. — February 4, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  11. Mike: because as you know legislation is about what’s possible not ideal. The ordinance will be coming up for a hearing in the not too distant future though.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — February 4, 2015 @ 8:41 am

  12. yes I’m too lazy to Google my own clarification, but Lauren wrote : ” Los Angeles ordinance which essentially says that if a grocery store is sold then the new grocery store owners has to offer those workers jobs at the new grocery store.” That would seem to me to mean if Lucky closed an another grocery opened in the same site. I guess it’s broader than that. As much as I support unions and am not shy about “big gubbmint” I’m still a little libertarian. This seems to be a little bit of over reach, especially if a store opens and has employees and then another store in a different location closes as a result. I don’t shop at Whole Foods because the CEO is a libertarian douche who has spoken out against Affordable Care Act and doesn’t believe Climate Change warrants regulation, but what if the Safeway which APPEARED to cause Lucky’s to close was a Whole Foods store? Seems like a very convoluted scenario.

    Comment by MI — February 4, 2015 @ 9:04 am

  13. ” I’m still a little libertarian.” so you’re just a little douche bag who sorta believes in do re mi and so convolution scenerios?

    Comment by jack — February 4, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  14. fortunately not as big a douche as you Jack. “believes in do re mi and so convolution scenerios?” huh?

    Comment by MI — February 4, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  15. Re “huh? Do = Obummer care, Re = Regulation can solve climate change, Mi = is a bigger douche

    Comment by jack — February 4, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  16. Sprouts Farmers Market Grand Opening is today at 30th and Broadway in Oakland. It would be such a great store to have take over Lucky’s or to build at Alameda Point. Just sayin. Lucky’s seems to be struggling. We use to get 90% of our groceries from there and we probably get less then 10% since Safeway opened. Sprouts has some great grand opening specials

    Comment by joelsf — January 13, 2016 @ 6:49 am

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