The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union is strongly against Walmart Neighborhood Markets coming to Northern California, the union said in a press release Wednesday.
Walmart is looking to bring its grocery store chain to Bay Area cities, including Pleasanton and San Ramon. There are currently 167 Walmart Neighborhood Markets nationwide, selling everything one would find in a regular grocery store, according to the Walmart website.
What concerns the union is, unlike Safeway and Lucky's, workers at Walmart Neighborhood Markets aren't unionized.
"Walmart's new move into the traditional grocery store sector is a departure in tactics on their part and a direct threat to our members in the grocery industry," said Ron Lind, President of UFCW Local 5. "Thousands of good jobs and the livelihood of tens of thousands of our members are jeopardized by Walmart's plans. We intend on fighting this threat with every ounce of our strength."
In Pleasanton, the City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to allow plans for a Walmart Neighborhood Market to move forward. If ultimately approved, it will go into the Meadow Plaza Shopping Center, where Nob Hill Foods once was. But that decision is expected to be appealed by Walmart opponents, which means a final determination isn't likely for a couple months.
The UFCW sees the move by Walmart to Pleasanton as symbolic, with the city being the home of Safeway's corporate headquarters.
"Walmart may be taking the fight directly to the center of the unionized grocery industry in Northern California but we will make sure the industry continues to provide good pay and benefits for workers," said John Roe, a Local 5 member and Safeway employee. "We're not going to let them waltz in and destroy a lot of good jobs and families in the process."
In San Ramon, the city learned last week that Walmart has reached out for construction bids to build a store in the approximately 55,000-square-foot vacant space in the Country Club Village Shopping Center.
"They are looking to end the bidding by the end of the month and open by the end of the year," said Marc Fontes, San Ramon's economic development director.
The Walmart Neighborhood Market in San Ramon has already faced resistance from the public. On Wednesday, a small group from San Ramon for Small Growth protested outside the empty storefront where the grocery store wants to move, the Contra Costa Times reported.