WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama cited convenience-store retailer Cumberland Farms as an example of a company that is finding success by empowering its employees. “Cumberland Farms convenience stores connects employees and leadership through apps and online platforms, and that leads to more input from employees and higher retention rates and better service,” he said in remarks delivered at the White House Summit on Worker Voice on October 7.
“We need to engage businesses to lead the way,” the president said, “because there are businesses out there who are taking the high road and enlist their employees as partners in their shared future, and understand that if they’re investing in their employees and making them partners, that they’ll actually do better, not worse. They’ll do better for shareholders. They’ll do better for the community. They’ll do better for America.”
He continued, “How do we scale up? How do we draw best practices and start changing mindsets? How do we help working folks and their families get ahead? We’re here today to think about where do we go next. We’ve got to ask ourselves: What does the next generation of American jobs look like? How do we make sure those jobs reward hard work? … We’ve got leaders from labor, business and government; we got some of the brightest minds in organizing and economics. … So you are in charge for the day. I’m eager to hear your ideas and your solutions.”
Before the breakout sessions, in remarks largely in support of unions, the president offered what he called “a set of common-sense principles for what it means to work in America.”
He said, “If you work hard in America”:
- “You should earn enough money to support your family.”
- “You should earn decent benefits … that is affordable health coverage and retirement savings.”
- “You [should] have the right to a safe workplace. And if you get hurt on the job, or become disabled or unemployed, you should still be able to keep food on the table.”
- “You should be able to take care of those you love, which means having sick leave and parental leave and affordable child care, and predictable schedules that give your family some stability.”
- “You should have a pathway to the education and training you need to grow your skills and earn raises and promotions and the chance to get ahead.”
- “You should have the freedom to decide for yourself—without fear or interference—if you want to join with others to advocate for yourself in the workplace, whether that’s through a union or any other means.”
The Obama administration selected Ari Haseotes, president and CEO of Cumberland Farms, to represent the company at the event. Haseotes participated in a panel discussion entitled “High Road Employer Strategies: Win/Win Solutions.”
Click here for Haseotes comments about participating in the summit. And watch the video below to see President Obama moderate a panel.
The family-owned convenience store chain has been widely recognized for its approach to healthcare, extending full-time health benefits to an additional 1,500 formerly part-time employees well ahead of the Affordable Care Act mandate. It has also introduced a variety of progressive compensation models and communication platforms aimed at driving retention and employee satisfaction, which Haseotes highlighted in his panel discussion.
Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms operates nearly 600 convenience stores across eight states in the Northeast and Florida.