Safeway Is Not So Pleased with Signature Gatherers

The grocery chain plans to begin enforcing their rules more strictly

by Brian Leubitz

Safeway isn’t really a political ally to the left in any meaningful way.  They could be worse to their employees, sure, but they could also be a lot better.  But they are frequently the center of signature gathering operations.  Not of their own free will, mind you, but just because that is where the traffic is.  If you want to find a lot of people walking around, go to the grocery store.

But the problem is that the signature gathering business isn’t really an activist operation anymore, if it ever really was. It’s a business, and the people gathering signatures are doing it for money.  And while the sidewalks are public property, safeway parking lots are not.  So Safeway is doing more to clear the entrances to their stores and ensure that gatherers are following the rules.  Unsurprisingly, the signature gatherers weren’t so impressed, as Josh Richman explains:

Safeway says the signature gatherers don’t abide by their corporate policies, block entrances and harass customers, and so has started a crackdown that, in some instances, includes seeking court injunctions against the worst offenders.

Signature gatherers counter that Safeway is disrupting their free-speech rights. About two dozen political petition signature gatherers protested the crackdown Wednesday outside Safeway’s corporate headquarters in Pleasanton. (BayAreaNews)

I actually have had a couple of awkward situations with the gatherers at the grocery store. But that is mostly because I like to hear what they say, and never sign.  I have seen them get rather rude to some people as well.  It is really hard to blame Safeway from blocking what is really a nuisance at their doorway.

3 thoughts on “Safeway Is Not So Pleased with Signature Gatherers”

  1. I get stopped fairly frequently as well. And, like you, I’m interested in what they’re collecting signatures for. But I don’t always have time. My experience is that volunteers will usually take no for an answer, paid gatherers won’t.

    When volunteering myself, I did one time arouse the ire of a local store owner. I pointed out to him that I was on a public sidewalk, not his parking lot. That my taxes paid for that sidewalk as much as his. That I’d taken care not to block the door. And that I had just spent $76.00 at his store. I produced the receipt to prove the latter. He did not try to make me leave, and the next time I saw him, he apologized. He explained he’d had complaints from customers about tabling on a contentious local issue. But I now try to get permission from stores, or at least tell them I’m there and will be careful not to block traffic.

    However, there’s another more serious issue here. And it’s why I was so disappointed that governor Brown didn’t sign a recent bill about paid gatherers.

    The issue is fraud.

    When doing voter registration in Fresno last year, I heard several stories about people who’d signed petitions at the mall–only to find their voter registration had been switched without their knowledge. Always, I might add, TO Republican. I know there have also been instances where people read one petition and found they’d signed another without realizing it as the paid gatherer flipped to the signature page. Or signed more than one, the one they read being in favor of cute puppies, and the other the real corporate agenda. These practices are the real problem with paid signature gatherers, and need to be stopped.

  2. I was recently approached by an Amazon signature gatherer and, like you, I listened to what they had to say knowing that I would not sign.  This signature gathering embodied every quality that you talk about and many other bad ones.  The guy was rude and did not take nicely to me not signing.  I am very against the Amazon deal because I feel that Amazon should be a responsible corporate citizen (and like Mitt Romney said “Corporations are people too.” but Amazon doesn’t like paying taxes!).  When the local business argument is brought up, I cannot help but side with them.  This signature  gatherer tried to get me to sign and even resorted to lying to say it was in favor of taxing Amazon.

    Safeway should make sure that they do not have signature gatherer pests at their  entrances!

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