ICYMI: Last Thursday, United for Respect (UFR) Member Leader Alex Ludwig, a PetSmart Care Associate, testified at the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions Fund (LAFPP) board meeting to urge them to stop investing in BC Partners, the private equity firm which acquired PetSmart in 2015. 

Private equity firms are playing a ruthless game that hurts our economy, ruins communities, and leaves people without jobs. UFR’s members are leading the fight to protect retail workers from private equity’s abuses and pandemic profiteering. As reported by the Wall Street JournalPetSmart workers have asked BC Partners — who owns PetSmart and other retailers — to address workplace safety issues that have heightened during the pandemic and establish a hardship fund for everyone terminated from March to May 2020. After PetSmart workers’ repeated requests to meet with leadership as a group went unaddressed, they’re now turning to BC Partners’ investors to hold the company accountable for the untenable conditions employees have been forced to endure. In a letter sent to BC Partners last month, Alex noted the following:

“Working for Petsmart is more than just a job for us. We deeply care about our customers and their needs but first and foremost, we care about the safety and well being of the animals in our stores and the pets that bring our customers joy and companionship during this crisis. Our communities are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and as employees of Petsmart, we are no exception. The vast majority of us are working in stores that lack basic safety precautions, like adequate masks and gloves, and have drastically cut hours, while the rest of us are navigating the unemployment process due to the mass furloughs and layoffs in the midst of a global health crisis and recession.”

Since 2009, private equity firms have destroyed over 1.3 million jobs and Wall Street executives have ruthlessly used the global pandemic as an excuse to close down companies, leaving thousands of workers without health insurance and severance pay. Working people have been forced to fight back against private equity’s greed. UFR’s members have done it with success, winning a $20 million hardship fund following the bankruptcy of Toys R’ Us and winning the historic passage of guaranteed severance for New Jersey workers laid-off after employer bankruptcy.

United for Respect members will continue to call on private equity investors like the LAFPP to stand with working people — who continue to do their jobs through a global pandemic, no less — and not with Wall Street billionaires. 

For more information on the negative impact of private equity on the U.S. economy, see Pirate Equity, a report co-authored by United For Respect.

Alex Ludwig is available for interviews. To speak to Alex or another Member Leader of United for Respect for comment on private equity, please email [email protected].