Another strike for grocery workers union?


Contract negotiations for 120,000 West Coast grocery workers have begun. The major disagreement is over a two-tier wage and healthcare system. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, both sides are hoping to avoid a dispute like the 140-day strike and lockout in 2003/2004.

The two-tier system was a result of the last strike, and allows the large grocery conglomerates to pay a significantly lower salary to new workers than the salary that was paid to new workers 10 years ago.

The reason that the UFCW is fighting so hard for pay equity is because the employers can clearly afford it. Last year, Ralphs, Albertsons, and Vons, all earned an average of $3 Billion in profit.

All of the employees should have equal benefits and pay. If you’d like to help, there are a couple of ways:

  • Sign the petition. Add your voice to support and demand respect for grocery workers.
  • Email the corporations. Let corporate management know how you feel and where you shop.
  • Tell a friend. Spread the word about Contract Campaign 2007!
  •   21 comments for “Another strike for grocery workers union?

    1. Publius
      March 17, 2007 at 11:31 pm

      “Tell a friend” – interesting.
      Wasn’t that also one of the jingles (slogans?) used by Alpha Beta in their final years before being swallowed up by Ralphs/Kroger?
      “Tell a friend,
      You should shop,
      Alpha-Beta…”

    2. Flowerszzz
      March 18, 2007 at 8:49 am

      Many of the strikers last time were so awful to their customers. I mean what did they expect??? We all have to buy groceries. It left an awful taste in my mouth that these workers harassed shoppers. I have been shopping at Stater Brothers since and just within the past few months have I started to shop back at my Vons since the last strike. If they want to strike that is their choice, but don’t expect sympathy from your customers when you treat them so bad. Everyone has to buy groceries…you can not expect them not to.

    3. March 18, 2007 at 9:09 am

      Flowerszzzzzzz,

      I guess it’s all in your approach. During the last strike, I went to the Ralphs where I usually shop and I talked with the workers outside. They explained to me why they were striking, and why they were asking for me not to cross the picket line. I was also given a flyer with directions to the closest grocery stores that weren’t part of the strike/lockout.

      The strike/lockout in 2003 has left an awful taste in my mouth too. I’m disgusted that corporations can promise their employees one thing, but then not deliver.

    4. Flowerszzz
      March 18, 2007 at 9:23 am

      My approach was this: My son & I felt intimidated because they were blocking the door to the grocery store and yelling, I preceded to walk up and was yelled at by my usual check out gal for grocery shopping. Mind you I said nothing on my way to the doors, but perhaps they could see the fear in my & my sons eyes. They did not ask me politely to not cross the picket line. They were yelling at and intimidating people. Perhaps they were frustrated because the strike went on longer then they expected.

      My point is I think that it is their right to strike, but you should not bully people into believing in your cause. I felt bad for them and supported them initially during the strike but after that happened, I did not care anymore.

    5. March 18, 2007 at 9:38 am

      The grocery workers lost my respect during the last strike. I am a Stater Bros. shopper, but my store is relatively small, and it became overrun with people. The lines were long, shelves were empty and you could hardly navigate the aisles. I understand why some shoppers had to go to the local Albertson’s, especially mothers with small children and older folks. I also saw how they were treated by their “friendly” Albertson’s workers. Mother’s were harassed and screamed at to the point where their children became scared and cried; older folks were equally harassed and chased into the parking lot by sign waving picketer’s, and even some disabled customers were harassed. Sorry, but that was just too much!

    6. March 18, 2007 at 11:20 am

      In Europe, supermarket checkers are going extinct. Either you go through an aisle where you scan yourself out, something that is now common here in the U.S. too, or they hand you a mobile scanner and you scan as you go.

      I feel bad for the strikers. They have truly crappy careers. They really need to go back to school and figure out how to do something more lucrative and more mentally rewarding.

      I will honor the strike this time. But I hope the strikers learn from their mistakes. Grocery bagging is a hopeless endeavor. It is a criminal waste of your brain. Go back to school and do something with your lives!

    7. Scab
      March 18, 2007 at 11:24 am

      All I can say is I will gladly fill in while they strike. In reality how much should a checker, stocker or bagger be paid? How difficult is it to scan items, tell people how much and collect money or stock the shelves or bag groceries? They should be greatful for what they have! They keep acting like they are entitled to more and their bosses are sick of it and so are we the consumers. They will all be replaced with do it yourself check outs and it is their own faults.

    8. demmother
      March 18, 2007 at 12:30 pm

      Art,

      Glad to hear you won’t cross the picket line. I am old enough to remember when being a grocery store worker/clerk WAS considered a career.

      I also prefer full service grocery, hardware, etc. First, I prefer to spend money where more will be going to the workers and Second, these are people who will assist you when you need help. Treat/pay people like dummies and that is the service you deserve.

      Scab,

      What is wrong with being ‘entitled’ to a livable wage and decent healthcare? It is a radical idea whose time has come.

    9. Scab
      March 18, 2007 at 12:37 pm

      Den – checkers are pretty well paid and receive a livable wage and health care. But the bottom line is they are working at a grocery store. What do they expect a CEO’s pay? They are grovery clerks, who scan items plain and simple. This is the job you get during high school, or while you go to college to better yourself. The radical idea who’s time has come it the do it yourself check out.

    10. Flowerszzz
      March 18, 2007 at 1:14 pm

      I think that many of the grocery chains lost business during the last strike, and to this day have not fully recovered all of their customers. While some may believe it may be due to the support of the employees, I tend to think that it was/is more due to the way the employees conducted themselves during the strike – at least that is the case for me. I have refused to go back, for all this time, to my more convenient store, not to punish Vons, but to punish the employees for their behavior. When I finally did go back, I noticed a whole new staff working – no familiar faces. Which to me means that the other workers either got transferred somewhere or in fact did lose their jobs. Which is sad if that is the case but again I have little sympathy after how I was treated.

      As to comments about old time checkers – yes there was a time that it was a much sought after job to become a checker, the pay was good and so were the benefits. But Art is right – it should be a stepping stone onto something better for yourself. This is not the 70-80′s anymore. If you are not more qualified for something better, that is your fault not society’s and not the grocery store you happen to work for. Go back to school, and/or find a better job. I do not expect my grocery store checkers to be paid more then I am and neither should they.

    11. March 18, 2007 at 8:19 pm

      There was a grocery strike a few years ago???? Just kidding. I usually shop at the Jeffrey & Alton Gelsons anyways which is non union I believe.

    12. Northcountystorm
      March 18, 2007 at 9:24 pm

      I took fruit baskets around to a number of stores to give to the striking workers during the strike and observed a few other stores when I was in the centers. So of about 30 experiences I saw only 1 case where picketers were rude to customers. Interestingly, this was at a demonstration in Anaheim where politicians and press were at. I’ve always felt the press brings out the worst in people–you see it around the world–everything is quiet and peaceful until the tv cameras go on and then all hell breaks loose. Here people were yelled at who crossed the line. Most of the yelling dealt with a few people who had an atitude going in and made some rude comments. But still, it was a black mark and uncalled for. But 1 out of 30 showed me that most picketers were nice and respectful–these were people who knew many of their customers by first name. And many refused to cross the line and went to Stater Brothers or elsewhere.

    13. Dan Chmielewski
      March 19, 2007 at 7:56 am

      I refused to cross the picket lines; Had no problem getting groceries from Costco, Target and the Organic produce stand at Jeffrey & Bryant.

    14. March 19, 2007 at 9:34 am

      What’s telling is that those who deride the grocery workers also get upset if you talk about illegal immigrants doing similar jobs.

      They mock the “banana scanners” while looking askance at an agri-business industry for not hiring ‘Mericans at twenty dollars an hour.

      DU

    15. Morning Coffee
      March 19, 2007 at 10:59 am

      Stater Bros. and Gelson’s did not “pre-settle” with their workers. The Manager of my Stater Bros. store told me these two chains agreed to give their workers whatever the Union got after negotiations were finished. The Union then allowed these two chains to operate without pickets during the strike so people could get groceries without crossing a picket line. I *think* there was also some deal made about sharing the profits with the stores that had picket lines and lost business. I thought they might give the “no picket” package to different chains this time, but I guess not.

    16. Flowerszzz
      March 19, 2007 at 9:39 pm

      Eye – I truly doubt that if those working now as checkers left their jobs today, there would not be plenty of citizens there ready, willing and able to take their jobs, benefits and pay.

    17. albertsons worker
      March 26, 2007 at 8:57 am

      I am an employee at Albertsons and have been for 8 years now. I was locked out of my job three years ago for 4 1/2 months. Most people dont know half of the stuff the company was trying to get us to settle for. They dont want the people to know their greed. They are the reason they are in business. So the less they know the better. I am a mother of 2 lil girls who will never own a house in California because of the prices. I make fifteen dollars an hour and thats dam good money. I dont complain about my hourly wage or want more money but the cost of living is hell of alot out here. I am only part time. Our company dont want us to be full time. Ok not an issue. BUT dont take away my benefits. I have kids that go to the doctors at least 4 times a year. My kids are healthy and Im greatful, but what about the people whos kids that arent so blessed as mine. Who need medical attention all the time. Kids are our future. And if you have kids you know theres no limit to what you’d do for them. So thats the reason we fight for our benefits. Why do they want to take it away if they can afford it. Stater Bros. signed for a raise for .30 cents a year for 3 years(its better than nothing) better benefits than our last contract. Stater Bros. is ONLY a southern california company and have way lower prices than Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons. Albertsons is a company all through out the United States making more profits than Stater Bros. and they refuse to pay their employees. In Southern California alone they control more 70% of the markets. Dont think were out there demanding more money or want more benefits. It would be nice but we’d be happy if it stays the same rather than trying to take more of it away.
      They paid the scabs 3 years ago $19 an hour for our job. Paid for their hotels and food.
      If we dont fight now the retirees wont have anything. We fight for the future to take of our elderly. Somebodys got to.

    18. albertsons worker
      March 26, 2007 at 9:08 am

      Dan Chmielewski THANK YOU SO MUCH. ITS PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT WILL MAKE THESE COMPANYS GIVE WITHOUT YOU THEY HAVE NOTHING. IF PEOPLE STILL SHOP N CROSS OUR PICKET LINES THERES NO NEED TO WANT TO NEGOTIATE THEY ARE STILL PROFITING. BUT THANK YOU WE KNOW THERES STILL GOOD PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD

    19. Stater brothers worker
      June 24, 2007 at 2:26 pm

      To anyone that really cares,
      I have been with stater brothers for fourteen years, and if you think that it is really easy to check and stock the shelves, why don’t you try it for a couple of weeks and we shall see if you still feel the same way. Yes we make good money and have good benefits, but it is not even close enough to being able to survive on our own. My daughter has barters syndrome, is four years old, and has been in the hospital four times;
      without my benefits we would be deep under in medical bills. My point is be thankfull that we work hard for our money and benefits, and that we are not just a burden to society like all of the healthy people that are on welfare and take advantage of our system. We are hard working people that go to work when scheduled; every weekend, on hollidays, and in the middle of the night if need be. We are hard working and honest people that deserve to be able to support our families on a somewhat descent wage. Do not take away from us; just let us be!!!!!

    20. Flowerszzz
      June 24, 2007 at 9:28 pm

      no one said you were not hard working people….just that this is a basic entry level job and that it is not society or your employers burden that you never decided to move on to a better paying job. If it is your life goal to be a grocery clerk – that is great, but it does not mean you deserve to be paid more then the job is worth. You guys have screwed yourselves, or should I say the unions have screwed you, over the years..and now your pay is becoming less and less. How exactly has the strike or the union helped you? It hink you will find that if you decide to go on strike next week, you will have very little public sentiment…people will cross the picket lines in droves. PS I am sorry about your little girl and I hope she stays healthy. I fear on your next strike you will lose your benefits as well.

    21. Bailey
      June 25, 2007 at 6:47 am

      When will this a misconception that working in a grocery is not a career? I have worked for Ralph’s for 29 years and Ralph’s calls it a career, Every store is a small company, There are Management members, Department
      managers,recievers and bookeepers and they are all unions members under the same contract as checkers and in most cases do make and more money for the extra responsibility.
      Why shouldn’t we have good medical insurance, This job is very hard on your body it is very physical and alot of injuries that are the same as a professional athlete and they are taken care of to keep them preforming there job. Standing for 8 hours and scanning groceries is extremly wearing on elbows, shoulders,feet and back and all the while conducting customer service.
      So if I were sitting on my ass doing half the job it would be a career ?

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