Eddie Basha Jr. Spent Golden Years Fighting Greedy UFCW Labor Union; Philanthropist Grocer Dead at 75

Categories: Union Dues

basha eddie jr 1.jpg
Eddie Basha Jr., who died Tuesday at age 75, spent his last few years in a bitter struggle against the UFCW labor union.
Eddie Basha Jr., an Arizona legend who used profits from his successful grocery chain to fund countless charity causes, spent the last years of his life fighting allegations of racism, mistreating employees, and even hurting babies by a labor union bent on domination.

Though Basha, the grandson of Arizona-pioneering Lebanese immigrants, had supported many liberal causes and once ran for governor as a Democrat, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99 union gave the grocer a decade of grief for his anti-union stance.

The fight cost the chain millions of dollars and reportedly was a major reason the company had to lay off hundreds of employees and file for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2009.

See also: In its war for new members, a labor union is using dirty tricks to turn Hispanics against Bashas'

See also: Bashas' Employees Protest Union Tactics at UFCW Local 99's Phoenix Office

In one of the dirtiest tricks, UFCW lackeys "found" expired baby food in Bashas' stores; a supposedly independent consumer group then held a press conference and distributed literature accusing the chain of potentially harmful callousness against babies. Bashas' attorney Mike Manning claimed some of the expired baby formula was planted -- whether that's true or not, the group, Hungry for Respect, didn't check out the products at any other chain.

Our January 2008 feature article on the union battle, linked above, also detailed how the UFCW handed out free pizzas in Hispanic communities and recruited a young, dynamic speaker -- who also happened to be an undocumented immigrant -- to whip up sentiment for a boycott of

hungry for respect baby 1.jpg
Image: UFCW, Tucson Citizen
One of the babies that Bashas' stores supposedly didn't care about is seen In this photo from union-supported literature targeting the grocery chain in 2007.
Bashas' and Food City stores. New Times attended one of several house parties hosted by the union in a west Phoenix neighborhood, watching as the union led discussions about how Bashas' supports bigotry against Hispanics.

The union stood to gain a fortune if it won the war to represent to the chain's employees. From the article:

Local 99 dues now average between $27.65 and $47.88 a month, depending on a worker's position. Even with the lower dues, if Bashas' 14,000 employees unionized, the UFCW could collect $4.6 million a year. Local 99 took in about $7.5 million in dues last year, so roping in Bashas' would be a major coup.

Basha couldn't have fought off the union without the support of many employees who believed they were better off without the UFCW. In an unusual turnabout, a group of employees even picketed the UFCW's Central Phoenix office.

Bashas' sued the UFCW for defamation and extortion. In 2009, the two parties declared a truce, agreeing to end negative publicity campaigns against each other and settle lawsuits and allegations of labor violations. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2010.

The long struggle against the UFCW and its dirty tactics infuriated Basha, who wondered aloud to the Tucson Citizen in 2007, "What the hell has the union given to this community?"

Echoes of a famous speech by Winston Churchill rang in Basha's quotes to the Tucson paper: "I'm going to fight them in the streets; I'm going to fight them in the sewers; I'm going to fight them wherever I have to fight them . . . They have tenacity, and they think we're not going to have any fortitude. They picked the wrong Marine."

The Basha family, in a statement last night, said that the last few years were among the most challenging of Eddie Basha Jr.'s life.

Basha was a man of solid ethics who spent much of his life and an estimated $100 million giving back to the community.

The UFCW ensured that his golden years would be a time of reputation-tarnishing, stress and financial challenges.


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20 comments
LuluandRosy
LuluandRosy

New Times - thank you for having the guts to tell this story. Bravo!

JackSprat
JackSprat

Thank goodness for guys like Eddie Basha that fight against union extortion.

As 'SliperyMike' said:  Unions have outlived their usefulness and are no different than any other organized crime syndicate.  Continued union membership decline proves that.

squash
squash

This is news to me...I had no clue about Eddie Basha's stance on unions. Am I the only one who thinks it's weird/hypocritical that Basha called himself a Democrat, but advocated the destruction of a union? Perhaps he should have ran as a Republican since, last I checked, it was Republicans who were so anti-union. As far as I'm concerned, you have no right to call yourself a liberal (he could have prevented the whole hypocrisy argument by calling himself Independent) while espousing a right-wing union busting ideology. Other than that, Basha did do some good things for the community with his various charitable donations to the different causes he supported - I guess he sort of gets a freebie for that one (plus, he's dead :^/ ). That said, I do enjoy his grocery store chains (Food City especially, they have a good selection of Mexican candy and other Mexican cuisine).

EDUCATE.A.SLAVE
EDUCATE.A.SLAVE

Unions protect the worker.  Big business hates unions because they protect worker rights. 


UNIONS gave American workers:

Public Education for Children, Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011, Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

Holiday Pay, Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance, Privacy Rights, Pregnancy/Parental Leave, Military Leave,Right to Strike

Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS), Compensation increases and Evaluations, Sexual Harassment Law, ADA

Wrongful Termination Law, Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967, Whistleblower Protection Law, Employee Polygraph Protect Act

 Unemployment Insurance, Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations, Employer Health Care Insurance, Collective Bargaining Rights

8-Hour Work Day, Overtime Pay, Child Labor Laws, Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA), 40 Hour Work Week, Worker's Compensation

Weekends, All Breaks at Work, Paid Vacation, FMLA, Sick Leave, Social Security, Minimum Wage, Civil Rights Act/Title VII, Pensions

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

In his later years he had turned to supporting the Republican party and the control over our State government by the prison industrial complex.  I used to hang out at his house in Chandler when I was a kid and in the 1970s.  I always like it when the Sabas would come over and bring all that middle eastern food over. 

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

Eddie Basha was a pretty cool guy... I'd forgotten how much good stuff he did.

66rock
66rock topcommenter

Oh please.  He fought the union for the same reason WalMart and every other company does, for his bottom line and it was his choice.  

loganberry8
loganberry8

@JackSprat He wasn't fighting union extortion, he was greedy and fighting to keep his artwork and museum. If he paid his employees good he wouldn't have that problem. I can't believe that he was so anti union and still claimed to be a democrat.

EDUCATE.A.SLAVE
EDUCATE.A.SLAVE

There would be nothing to stand in the way of Big Business and lobbyists to repeal such rights and protections if we allow the elimination of unions, you low IQ NT slaves certainly aren't going to stand up for your rights, you don't even like the constitution lmao.

sliperymike
sliperymike

@66rock Eddie Basha was a champion of hard work and reward,that at one time may have supported the same thugs that run unions.

unions have outlived their usefulness,and are an arm of organized crime,just the same as walmart .

Bnbk
Bnbk

@EDUCATE.A.SLAVE Well said EAS.Let all those who are so anti-union start a line to give up everyone of the rights that unions have fought so hard for,for not only union members,but all workers. You can bet the line would not be very long. BTW,you can add the Lilly Ledbetter act to the list,which just so happened to be in accomplished during Obama's first term,just saying for those who will say,"what have you done for me lately". You can also expect that unions will be pushing for a raise in the minimum wage. So start the line all you anti-union slaves.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@EDUCATE.A.SLAVE 

The issue is balance. During the industrial revolution employers took advantage of labor - no doubt about it. It seems to me that instead of restoring balance, labor has been working hard to exact its revenge ever since - to the point that it has made employing labor almost impossible in this country. The new approach at GE's appliance city is a great example of where success can be found when balance is struck - when labor puts aside its insane desire to exact its revenge and management puts aside its insane desire to squeeze every last penny of profit out of labor and both sides are willing to work together. Jobs will continue to flow overseas, though, until labor demonstrates that it is willing to work with and compromise with management - and management with labor -for sane employment practices

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@EDUCATE.A.SLAVE Yes, Unions have accomplished much of that (not all) and those that are fortunate enough to have the few remaining jobs left in the manufacturing sector sure are grateful. You know who else is grateful? All of the employees at manufacturing facilities across Asia who are the recipients of all the manufacturing jobs that have been moved oversees because American labor is now too expensive and regulatorily burdensome to be globally competitive.

Bnbk
Bnbk

@valleynative @Bnbk These people never belonged to a union either,but I'l bet many wish they did have union representation,but are just too intimidated and threatened to unionize,meanwhile we the American voters are left to subsidize not only the workers public assistance,but the employer in the form of corporate welfare......http://www.mcccedu/pdf/eng024/class%206-7/class%206-7%20   http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/stores3.html     keep in mind these are are not what anyone could call bias sources...........Also I rarely post links,I feel everyone should do their own research,failing to do so,while just spouting off is sign of laziness... BTW,it is not extortion,it is called collective bargaining..... Information can be your friend try informing yourself sometime.

valleynative
valleynative

@Bnbk  I've never belonged to a union.  I've always been valuable enough to my employers that they wanted to treat me well to keep me from simply changing employers.   If you can only get decent pay and treatment by extorting it from your employer, maybe you should look to yourself for the solution.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@Bnbk @EDUCATE.A.SLAVE So are you suggesting that all the wonderful rights that EAS is boasting about has had no impact on the cost of employing labor in America?  Just want to be clear about the point you are making.  Oh, and the 47% comment (while being completely offensive) had nothing to do with a Chinese factory.  Romney represents the out-of-balance management/employers I spoke of above and I would never, ever offer any defense of him.

Bnbk
Bnbk

@JohnQ.Public @Bnbk @EDUCATE.A.SLAVE That's the exact same argument all the corporations are making,all the while paying slave wages,poisoning their poeple,ruining their enviorment,and raking in more and more profits.If you think that this is not their goal,I refer you to Mitt Romoney's 47% comment about the chinese factory he was buying.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@Bnbk @EDUCATE.A.SLAVE Manufacturing jobs were 28% of the American economy in 1962 but declined to 9% of the jobs in the American economy in 2011.  Great rights - for those that still have jobs.  While much of the accomplishments that unions have contributed to (its disenguous for unions to take all the credit for everything listed), there are those who have clearly suffered job loss as the cost of American labor has gone up and up and up as a result of these additional rights.

Bnbk
Bnbk

@JohnQ.Public JQP,of course the exodus of manufacturing jobs would have absolutely nothing to do with our lawmakers giving taxbreaks to companies shipping jobs overseas ? Or maybe the lax enviormental regulations in all the slave labor countries ?

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