And I've got to be straight with you, I have been trying to lay off the Susan Henderson stories. No, I really have. There are so many more important things to discuss these days that any further speculation about the poor dear is likely a waste of everyone's time. What would the point be?
But here's the thing. I have this unfortunate problem with newspapers that print things that are obviously false. And a lot of what you get in the Looney Views News is just absurd twaddle, in most cases designed to buttress the agendas of the same old tiresome people as all those other times. More often than not the troubled loudmouths of the Downtown Investors Club, along with the cheap local pols who have somehow built their dicey careers around carrying their water.
A case in point would be this weekend's giddy nonsense regarding the world's second most profitable retailer after Wal*Mart, the British food peddler Tesco aka "Fresh and Easy." If you haven't heard, they may be opening a new outlet on the DIC owned Howie's site. Whether this is good news or not is up to you, but quite obviously it has caused Susan flights of ecstasy that rival anything to be found at a late night rave at the L.A. Coliseum. And some of what she has written into her story as news is so obviously Tesco/Fresh & Easy manufactured propaganda that you have to cringe.
Fresh & Easy, says in its website, "Your groceries cost less because we design stores to save money. We install LED lighting and energy-efficient refrigerator doors that use less. And by using less, we're able to pass more savings on to you. We keep our prices simple too. In our shops, you won't find confusing sales gimmicks; just honest low prices every day for everyone.
Of course, it is only one more banana step beyond that for Ms. Henderson to take this to the next level, which is to suggest that the reason prices at Fresh & Easy are lower than elsewhere is because they are "Green." The message being that they are saving you money by saving the world.
In addition to Fresh & Easy's efforts to reduce refrigerant emissions, it also focuses on system energy efficiency, including the use of energy efficient doors on freezer and dairy cases; Triple-pane glass with an anti-fog coating on refrigerator doors, eliminating the need for door heaters for icing or fogging; night curtains on refrigerators to conserve energy while keeping product at the appropriate temperature when stores are closed; LED lighting in all chilled cases.
"On average, our stores use 30 percent less energy than a typical supermarket, which helps our customers save money while also helping the environment," said Tim Mason, CEO of Fresh & Easy a few years ago. "We've worked hard to make sure we are thoughtful in the impact we have on the environment and we're excited to continue to innovate in this area."
Now there is hardly a business in this state that hasn't claimed that they are saving the world from environmental collapse. It is a standard business practice in California. And that an international conglomerate like the British retailer Tesco should also do so is hardly surprising. Oil companies do it, so do real estate developers. As does Edison for that matter. Despite the fact that their coal-fired generating plants out in the desert are some of the most prodigious producers of greenhouse gas emissions in the western United States.
But proclaiming that the lower prices at Fresh & Easy stores are due to "green practices" is really taking it a step beyond even standard issue malarkey. The more mundane reasons for this are far more likely to be true. The sad fact is Fresh & Easy, like the Wal*Mart food retail locations it competes with, do not pay their people very much money. And woe to the employees who might attempt to organize anything approaching a union in order to obtain for themselves the benefits and better pay those employed at a Ralph's or Albertson's enjoy.
Here are several stories culled from the internet to back this one up.
Fresh & Easy Busted for Union Busting (click here): Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc., the U.S. arm of British grocery giant Tesco, itself the second most-profitable worldwide retailer behind Wal-Mart, has lost in a petition for review if a disciplinary order handed down by the National Labor Relations Board.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. has upheld the ruling of the Labor Relations Board pertaining to actions taken against an employee at a store in the San Diego suburb of Spring Valley. The Board held that Fresh & Easy was guilty of three separate violations of labor law against an employee during a union organizing drive at the store in 2008.
Administrative Law Judge Finds Tesco's Fresh & Easy Violated Labor Relations Act in Ex-Store Employee, UFCW Complaint (click here): Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has been found by a Federal Administrative Law Judge to be in violation of a section of the U.S. Labor Relations Act, regarding an unfair labor practices complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) against the El Segundo, California-based food and grocery chain last year by Deana Kenton, a former employee of Fresh & Easy store number 1247 on East Lake Mead Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
San Franciscans Clash With U.K. Grocer Over Labor Practices, Job Creation (click here): A British-owned grocery chain with a history of unfriendly labor relations in the United States is looking to open its doors in San Francisco's Mission District. Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market plans to build on a site that used to host two local grocery stores.
"In communities that they have been in the last four years, they have not kept their promises. They are blocking employees from advocating for improvements. We've been hearing horror stories," Oscar Grande told In These Times.
There are quite a few similar articles to be found in this vein. What is unfortunate here is that we have a multi-national corporation that uses environmental claims to embellish its credentials, but does so in part to cover up for their rather harsh reputation for poor labor practices. That so hugely profitable a company as Fresh & Easy parent Tesco would see fit to come to this country and work so hard to undercut the living standards of grocery employees, both their own and those of their competitors, is sad. But hardly atypical of the way things are going these days. This is hardly a golden era for workers.
But what I find to be worse is that our local adjudicated newspaper of record, the Mountain Views News, would somehow fail to cover both sides of the Fresh & Easy story. No matter how you might feel about the food retailer coming to Sierra Madre, I am sure you'll agree there is nothing "green" about nickel and diming the help. This is a community that treats its people with respect and dignity. It is a town of small independent shops and businesses where people have always worked together, and for the benefit of us all.
That is one of the things that makes Sierra Madre unique. It is also is something that begins with reporting the truth.