As SoCal Braces for Big Grocery Strike, UFCW “Urges” Shoppers to Respect Picket Lines

In 2003 into 2004, the United Food & Commercial Workers’ 70,000 members throughout Southern California were embroiled in a labor dispute that lasted 141 days. Now, with approximately 62,000 members and a contract that expired three months ago, it appears the UFCW may be heading down the same path.

In 2003/2004, the UFCW essentially ended the dispute by accepting the same offer (or nearly the same offer) that it had gone on strike over. UFCW members, as one striker wrote, found trying survive off of $100 per week in strike pay too difficult.

Strike pay has been forced to be cut to $100 a week in my local. We can’t hold out any longer. I wish I had some good news, but it looks like we’re going to be going down in flames.

Nearly eight years since the last big strike, the majority of voting UFCW members recently voted to authorize their union negotiators to call them out on the picket lines again, if necessary.

In San Diego (and, presumably, elsewhere), if the union does strike, the UFCW will “urge” local shoppers to respect their picket lines.

The region’s main labor organization today will urge San Diegans to respect picket lines in case grocery workers go on strike today at noon in the Mission Valley area.

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council said a job action would involve 10,000 supermarket employees.

[snip]

The head of the regional AFL-CIO lent its support to some 10,000 Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons employees, saying she would ask more than 190,000 union members to shop elsewhere, and the AFL-CIO would set up a fund to pay workers if they strike.

“We will not let affected workers go without support,” said Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. “My heart is heavy because the idea of a long strike can be devastating.”

Meanwhile, the grocery chains are stating that the offers presented to the union, thus far, are “reasonable.”

Although the proposal makes some changes to the current health and welfare plan, employees would pay as little as $9 a week for coverage; receive coverage if they work just 16 hours per week, depending on their job; and have access to an excellent health care plan that allows them to receive comprehensive coverage for themselves and their families,” the statement said.

While a strike may be called at any time, the union locals and the supermarket chains are still in negotiations.

If it comes down to a strike, with the non-union competition in Southern California greater than it was seven years ago, shoppers (if they choose not to cross the picket lines) will likely not starve.

_________________

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Cross-posted.

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10 Comments

  1. Michael Zeiler, CLRP, PCM, JD says:

    When will UFCW, it’s few supporting unions (IBT, etc) and their members ever learn? After their unprecedented drubbing in the last SoCal strike, they not only spent themselves into penury, but ruined the livelihoods of 75,000 grocery workers who, like the proverbial lemings, followed UFCW leadership “over the cliff”.
    As a result, UFCW’s national treasury had nothing left to support any other major market negotiations elsewhere. Now, after the closure of scores of UFCW Locals around California and elsewhere, it’s just not credible that UFCW is serious about another try at financial hiri-kiri!
    Unless, of course, they’ve got an under the table deal with Barack Husein Obama to bail them out with taxpayer money should they fail! Alternatively, the UFCW may know something everyone else doesn’t; such as assurance that Obama’s NLRB will intervene to force the parties into binding arbitration where the Obama appointed arbitrator forces a settlement on the grocers that prevents a strike while gouging the merchants. While the UFCW’s treasury and membership will gain a huge windfall from such an “extra-contractual” dirty trick, such a mandate would spell serious economic concerns for businesses nationwide, if not financial doom.

    • Timmo says:

      I feel you miss the point.UFCW actually merged many of their smaller Locals into larger Locals eliminating and cutting the fat of their own staff in the process.The “merchants” are padding their wallets, raising their prices, pocketing their extra cash all the while taking advantage of the customer and their own employees. Grocery prices are raising, not because of higher priced goods and services but because of the corporate greed.

      • b johnson says:

        Although I support the needs of the Grocery workers and wish them well in the negotiations the statement by Timmo is pure rhetoric. Playing the “evil big business card” has been used too many times as a way to build sympathy for the folks. The methods of the Union wonks are no longer effective in getting the workers needs taken care of. Do Union staffers stop their wages during a strike NO.

  2. Roz Anders says:

    The Union management are “pigs at the trough.”

  3. Bret R. says:

    I didnt support the strike before and I sure do not now.Most people dont.Especially during a recession,BE APPRECIATIVE THAT YOU EVEN HAVE A JOB MUCH LESS HEALTHCARE!! Millions of Americans dont have either.Its the grocery workers that are the greedy ones,not the store owners.Some stores went under before,so they made there sacrifices,its about time the underskilled,over payed grocery workers make some kind of sacrifice.Grocery checkers make over $20.00 an hour max.Plus top notch healthcare.for doing an easy job even a monkey can do.Alot of college educated people dont even make that much money.Alot of grocery workers are working(and living)in the country illegally to begin with,dont speak english and shouldnt even be having these jobs,stealing them from Americans.Be appreciative you even have a job.If you dont want your job or dont appreciate it,there are millions that will be more than happy to have it.

    • Rex says:

      Never got this kind of logic, “I’m in a shitty situation, so should everybody else. I cheer somone’s good fortune, and maybe wish some for myself…….

  4. Richard says:

    The PROBLEM is that ever since “Saint Reagan” and his Union BREAKING Policies, they really don’t have any TEETH, I KNOW that if it weren’t FOR Unions, we would work 12 hr. days, 7 days a week for low wages and no benefits, When My father worked for Ma Bell, the union got benefits for MANAGEMENT that weren’t in place before they Struck! The problem I see is that is they really ended up settling for NOTHINg more than they were offered last time,how is that going to change now. Its Not the “Premium” its the MUCH higher Copay that is the problem, of course I just lost my job and Cobra in $655 a month on unemployment? Are you JOKING ? I wish them the best but the “haves” will just “justify” screwing the have nots as usual I am afraid !

  5. mar says:

    ill tell you right now if the union decides to do this, which sounds like it will knowing that vons is already hiring for the possible happening. all i can say is this will definitely shut the doors permanently on some markets. that will definitely quiet the union. not to mention albertsons is talking about pulling out of southern california for good. then what. i say work with the stores to an agreement. i know times are tough but fighting over a few mesly bucks in insurance is not worth losing many jobs. the union just wants thier money.

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