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Joseph E. Fernandes papers

This is an online exhibit that focuses on the life of Joseph Fernandes and the generational impact his chain of grocery stores had.


Based on available documentation, it appears that Fernandes Super Markets Inc. began to have issues with organized labor around 1964. It was during this year that Local 328 AFL-CIO Meat Cutters and Food Store Workers began to actively protest against the Fernandes Independent Employees Association, based on the argument that the Employees Association was not an union and should not be treated as such.

The issues with organized labor continued through the rest of the 1960s, and up until the selling of the business in 1978. 

Really, he believed that all were well treated and paid that worked at the chain.  Which is why he was devastated by successive strikes which he took very personally.  He paid his employees on par if not more than other supermarket chains and even once published a full page ad with all of the wages paid (I saw this recently on the facebook page of Peter Wiggens who has posted numerous Fernandes Supermarket ads).  There were instances of sabotage where all of the refrigerator cases would be unplugged and all the meats and frozen foods would be ruined.  The 70's was an era of growing strong unionization in the north east and eventually the business fell behind and was forced to sell.  Perhaps you can get over one strike, but several became insurmountable.  Subsequently, my Dad said he should have considered things like Employee Stock Option Plans that became a way of preventing unionization and having everyone in a win-win situation through success and not being adversarial.  This was done by the largest remaining private supermarket chain in the country, Publix.  My dad knew the founder Mr. Jenkins.  

Below are some documents that highlight what was happening. 




Marcia also notes: "I remember another quote from my Dad "People always need to eat", meaning the business was resilient to economic shifts.  Between the years 1973 and 1975 there was a recession.  In fact, a new term arose, "stagflation", where high unemployment and high inflation existed at the same time.  There was also the advent of OPEC and an oil embargo creating long lines and rationing at the gas stations.   These economic conditions contributed to the rise of the union within the supermarket chain as well as consumer price sensitivity.  Prior to those times the economy was strong and growing."




Chapter 11


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