Raley’s the winner in Raley’s vs. labor
When Thomas Raley opened his first store in Placerville in 1935 as a drive-in market, it was one of many firsts. He pioneered the first pre-packaged meat department. He built the first side-by-side grocery and drug store. And Tom was the first to introduce a natural foods department.
During the next seven decades, Raley’s grew to become the dominant supermarket operator in the Sacramento area. Its growth continued throughout Northern California and into Nevada with more than 100 stores and 13,000 employees.
Times were good, and sometimes very good. But when the current economic downturn hit in 2007, no business, including Raley’s, was immune to the long-term impact it would have. Many businesses were intent to ride it out, others could not and closed. With a strong financial history, Raley’s endured the economic turbulence as best as possible, but there came the time when black went to red on the financials.
That’s the time when all costs were examined: Operations, sales, distribution, food costs, executive salaries and the cost of labor. Labor is where significant cost savings could be made because their unionized employees were earning higher wages and had better benefits than their union counterparts at other grocery chains such as Safeway and Save Mart.
It was time to “sharpen the pencil” and engage in some straight talk with the unions. After 15 months of negotiations — meeting sometimes daily with the unions — both sides hit an impasse.
Another first in the 77-year history of the company was the nine-day employee strike in November. The out-of-touch union leadership was intent on protecting its own self-interests. The villains here brought in hundreds of union employees from other stores to create an impact.
Raley’s invited the union to the bargaining table once again and after many days and nights of marathon negotiations, a deal was reached. The strike ended, just days before the week of Thanksgiving — one of the busiest times for grocery stores. And all the union members got their jobs back.
What people don’t realize is that even though the employees are back at work, customers may not be back shopping. If recovery takes too long, layoffs can loom for the very employees who were striking and contesting wages and benefits. If business doesn’t recover, that’s one less union employee to negotiate for, and no one likes cost savings to come in this way.
Despite its economic woes, Raley’s has been steadfast in its commitment to the community. The list of community, civic and charitable organizations is long as it is wide — from the East Bay to Nevada and from Chico to Modesto — and it serves multiple levels of the community: The environment, education, families, youth programs, the elderly and more. One of its most successful endeavors is the Food for Families program that has raised $27 million and 17 million pounds of food for more than 72 local food banks. Right now, Raley’s will double all customer donations.
El Dorado County — the El Dorado Hills Library, El Dorado Hills Community Services, Hands for Hope, El Dorado High School music department and the Food Bank of El Dorado County — have been the beneficiaries of Raley’s generosity many times over. In this season of thanks, we can be thankful to have such a wonderful community partner and a fine place to shop for food, the Raley’s Family of Fine Stores.
1935 Thomas P. Raley opens his first Raley's Market in Placerville, CA. He levels an empty lot next door, then advertises his store as "the nation's first drive-in market." 1942 The Placerville store is destroyed by fire. Tom Raley opens stores in Sacramento, CA. 1947 Tom Raley opens nation's first self-service meat counter stocked with pre-packaged meat. 1973 Tom Raley "tears down the walls" between supermarkets and drug stores, creating his first "Superstore." 1973 Raley's acquires Eagle Thrifty chain in Nevada. 1981 Mid-Valley Dairy, a fluid milk-processing plant, opens in Fairfield, CA as a joint venture between the Raley's, Bel Air and Save Mart chains. 1984 Raley's headquarters opens in West Sacramento, CA. 1985 Joyce Raley Teel, Tom Raley's only child, officially joins Raley's organization as Director of Community Relations. 1986 Food For Families, a non-profit organization, is established to help feed the hungry. 1988 Mid-Valley Dairy opens second operation in Turlock, CA to process ice cream and yogurt. 1989 Ozark Trucking, a family-owned subsidiary of Raley's, is established. 1989 Super Store Industries (SSI) is established in Stockton, CA to manage distribution of dry groceries, frozen foods and dairy products. 1991 Joyce Raley Teel and her husband, James E. Teel, become Co-Chairmen of Raley's Board of Directors. 1991 WestPac, a dry grocery distribution center, opens in Lathrop, CA, a joint venture with Raley's, Bel Air Markets and Save Mart. 1991 December 27, Tom Raley dies. Joyce Raley Teel becomes Raley’s sole owner. 1992 Raley's purchases the Bel Air chain. 1992 Raley's opens a Distribution Center in North Natomas. 1994 The first Food Source, a warehouse-format store, opens in Folsom, CA. 1997 Raley's launches the first fleet of Liquefied Natural Gas-powered trucks in the nation. 1998 Raley's purchases the Nob Hill Foods chain. 2003 The Raley's store in Benicia, CA is the first to offer e-cart, Raley's exclusive online shopping service. 2004 Raley's opens its first Aisle 1, a full-service fuel station, in Galt, CA. 2008 Raley's becomes the first retailer in California to use new truck filter system and operate the cleanest burning Class 8 Diesel Truck Fleet in the world used in day to day operation. 2009 Raley's is the first and only retailer in California – and just second in the nation – to achieve the highest honor from the U.S. EPA's GreenChill Partnership. Gold-Level Certification recognizes retailers for innovative green refrigeration technology.
- Joyce Raley Teel is sole owner of Raley's.
- Jim and Joyce Raley Teel are Co-Chairmen of Raley's Board of Directors.
- Michael Teel, grandson of Raley's founder, Tom Raley, leads the chain as President & CEO.
- Joyce Raley Teel is named fifth in nation among women business owners by Working Woman and Forbes magazines.
- Raley's corporate office is located in West Sacramento, CA.
- Raley's is voted Number One supermarket chain in the nation by readers of a leading national consumer magazine three consecutive times – in 1997, 2000 and 2003 – and in 2012 ranked among the top 10.
- Raley's ranks Number One in the Sacramento Business Journal's list of Corporate Philanthropy - Direct Giving for four consecutive years, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
- Raley's is the eleventh largest private company in California, according to the November 2008 issue of Forbes magazine, and it is listed as the nation's 27th largest among all supermarket chains in the May 2008 issue of Progressive Grocer magazine.
- Raley's annual revenue is $3 billion.
- Raley's owns and operates 128 stores: 78 Raley's; 20 Bel Air Markets; 22 Nob Hill Foods supermarkets and 8 Food Source stores. In addition, Raley's owns and operates 12 Aisle 1 Fuel Stations throughout Northern California and Nevada.
- Raley's operates 115 stores in California and 13 in Northern Nevada.
- Bel Air Markets are located in the greater Sacramento area.
- Nob Hill Foods stores are located in the California Central Coast and Bay Area.
- Food Source stores are located in Hayward, CA, the Sacramento area, and Northern Nevada.
- Raley's is known nationally for pioneering the NutriClean program, which tests for pesticide levels in produce. The program is known as AgriCheck.
- Raley's is the first grocery chain in the nation to establish a comprehensive program of food safety and sanitation practices storewide.
- Raley's supports California and Nevada State Parks through its NickelAid program. When customers reuse a bag at any of our stores, Raley's will donate 5 cents per bag ($100,000 annually) to benefit state parks.
- With approximately 13,000 employees, Raley's is the largest family-owned company in the greater Sacramento region.
- Raley's pays top wages in the industry and offers outstanding benefits.
- The average number of employees per store, full-time and part-time: 100.