Still waiting on back pay, former workers spoil grocer’s grand reopening

Workers hold informational picketing outside Victoria's Market, formerly Fresh Seasons Market.

Workers hold informational picketing outside Victoria’s Market, formerly Fresh Seasons Market.

When Fresh Seasons Markets in Victoria and Glen Lake closed a year ago, owner Tom Wartman failed to pay his employees the vacation and personal-holiday pay they had earned, their union alleges.

Local 653 of the United Food and Commercial Workers has taken legal action to recoup workers’ pay, and the union’s Health, Welfare and Pension Fund trustees are suing Fresh Seasons to recover benefit contributions never paid.

In the meantime, Wartman has teamed with local investors who own the Victoria and Glen Lake properties to reopen the stores under new names: Victoria’s Market and Glen Lake’s Market.

It’s a move Wartman’s former employees aren’t watching silently.

As the stores opened their doors this month, workers and their supporters were on hand to distribute fliers denouncing Wartman’s failure to pay them what they’re owed, Local 653 President Matt Utecht said in a public letter.

“If Tom Wartman wants the stores to reopen with community support, he should start by doing right by those community members who used to work for him,” Utecht said.

Click here to read Utecht’s full letter.

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Comments

  1. Thomas J. Wartman says:

    I dont think Tom Wartman the owner of the property really cares about your protest.
    There is another Tom Wartman who does though. I, the other Tom Wartman gets to see my name slandered at an intersection where the market is located. I until recently lived in Victoria for 23 years and I still have family there. My daughter is going to be back in the Victoria in 5 days after a volunteer mission to Nepal, and I will guarantee she will be very unhappy when she sees this. I do not know the other Tom Wartman, though we are distant relatives.
    I have been the subject of Facebook posts ,have received phone calls and messages asking what is happening, or what did you do? Etc.
    I am a simple man, not wealthy by any mean and I make a meager living by making handcrafted fishing lures. I work hard and I have created a name for myself in the Muskie lure business
    I really dislike the fact that when I have to get my mail at the post office in Victoria on a daily basis I am about 50′ away from the unions big yellow banner that exclaims in big black letters “SHAME ON YOU TOM WARTMAN” It would be a different situation, I think , if the name was a common name, Joe Smith or…
    Now I had spoke with Matt Utecht in person and 3 days in a row and he told me that he kept forgetting to contact the unions attorneys to see if we could work something out.
    So I had call on hire own attorney to contact him and their attorneys to try to get this resolved. I am at least hoping to get the banner worded to something to the effect of “Victoria Market Owner Tom Wartman Shame On You. The unions attorneys were adamant about not removing the banner all together. That was the best solution as far as I was concerned.
    One last thing. Yes I feel bad for the employees. I shopped at that store on occasion. I got to know a couple of the butchers, cashiers and carryout kids. The little people are the ones that repeatedly get screwed by the “Man”!

    I am hoping and praying for a quick resolve. Thank You!

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