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Key Food Supermarket Hiring Workers

New Store Set to Open in September, Workers Will be Represented by AFL-CIO
Key Foods hiring
Key Foods is hiring in New Brunswick. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Key Foods is hiring, and it will be a union shop, according to signs taped to the windows at the city's Health and Wellness Plaza, the former home of FreshGrocer.

Applications will be accepted at the building, located at 100 Kirkpatrick Street in downtown, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 19.

Positions in several departments are available and the company has been taking applications for almost a week.  They are seeking cashiers and department associates, as well as deli workers, cooks and preparers, and associates for the meat, grocery, dairy/frozen foods, and deli departments.

The store will be owned by Kevin Kim, his third store in the chain, a grocery co-op which consists of 180 stores, mostly in New York city's outer boroughs.

Key Foods originated as a co-op between Brooklyn grocers in 1937, and it has now grown to include stores in New York City, Long Island, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania.  Their only store in New Jersey is in Jersey City.

Not unlike Wakefern and its Shop-Rite brand, the co-op is an association of independent businesses. 

The coalition prides itself on being able to meet the needs of each neighborhood, providing diverse food at a low price.

It is a separate company from the firms that make it up, and it does not actually own any of the member companies. Key Food does not impose terms of employment on its member companies, but it does provide a website facilitating access to job opportunities

Key Food has at least 14 brands: Key Food Fresh, Key Food Marketplace, Key Fresh and Natural, Food Universe Marketplace, Food Dynasty, Food World, Urban Market, 55 Fulton Market, Manor Market, Locust Valley Market, Vitelio's Marketplace, Olive Tree Marketplace, Roslyn Holiday Farms, and Milford Farms. Some brands may be unique to one store, such as [Roslyn] Holiday Farms, which is located on Long Island. 

Some brands are specialist, while others were independent entities before joining the association.

Key Food Marketplace is a group of suburban supermarkets with large meat, deli, and produce departments. Key Fresh & Natural, which is the brand currently open in Jersey City, consists of smaller stores with an emphasis on the produce department, as well as meat and deli.

Food Dynasty, meanwhile, had been founded independently in 1993 and joined Key Food in 2005. 

At least one of Key Food's brands is apparently a member of another brand: 55 Fulton Market, a store in Manhattan, associates itself with Key Food Fresh, but has retained a name of its own. 

The workers at the new store will be represented by AFL-CIO local 1964, based in Ridgefield Park.   The failed market that previously occupied the space, theFreshGrocer, was unionized by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1262 in Clifton.

The AFL-CIO, like Key Food, is also a coalition of organizations.

In the AFL-CIO's case, the 56 member entities are labor unions with 12.5 million workers who come from a variety of industries, as noted by the association's website: "We are teachers and miners, bakers and engineers, pilots and public employees, doctors and nurses, teachers, painters, and plumbers - and more."

The AFL-CIO is even affiliated with an organization for non-union workers called "Working America," which represents people poorly protected by labor laws. This group, representing 3.2 million workers, includes housekeepers, caretakers, taxi drivers, car washers, and nannies. 

The agenda of the AFL-CIO revolves around the creation and retention of jobs and a high standard of living.

The group supports investing taxes into education and infrastructure, improving workers' lives through education, training as well as a minimum "living wage," universal health care, and corporate responsibility for misdeeds.

The AFL-CIO also wants to change trade laws to benefit American workers, reindustrialize America, and boost labor protections and worker rights around the world.