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November 24, 2003

Picket Lines Spread to Supermarket Warehouses and Distribution Centers

The Southern California supermarket strike gaining new momentum and support with the extension of picket lines from coast to coast over the weekend will now expand the fight to hold the line for health care to the warehouse and distribution facilities of all three supermarket chains.
Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) on strike at Safeway-owned Vons stores and locked out at Ralph’s and Albertson’s stores will ask Teamster members to hold the line for health care and honor their picket lines. A Teamster decision not to cross the lines would effectively shut down the distribution system that supplies the retail outlets, and  would bring increased pressure on the supermarket employers who are already facing strong consumer support for the workers.
UFCW members believe they and the Teamsters have a common cause and a common enemy. A win for corporate greed in the store workers’ street fight for health care would put benefits at risk across the entire supermarket industry. While the supermarket employers in their most recent Teamster contract agreed to maintain existing health benefits, the companies’ refusal to agree to a similar provision to maintain benefits for store employees would spell trouble for the Teamsters in their next round of negotiations. The effective elimination of store employee health benefits, as the employers are demanding, would put Teamster benefits next on the chopping block, and could weaken their position at the bargaining table.
A UFCW-Teamster united front would build on the growing solidarity among all worker and other progressive organizations in support of the supermarket strike. On November 22, thousands of workers and supporters from women’s, religious, student and community organizations turned out in Hold the Line for America’s Health Care rallies in Oakland and Orange County, California as well as Washington D.C. National AFL-CIO President John Sweeney announced that over a quarter of a million dollars has already been raised through the Hold the Line Fund, and that the 13 million member federation would continue to raise funds to provide emergency relief for striking and locked out workers.
November 24, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Pickets to Sacramento

As they enter their sixth week on strike, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union are extending picket lines to Sacramento-area Safeway stores. Picket lines are now up at Safeways in San Francisco, Oakland, Castro Valley, Hayward, and Fresno. Strikers are holding the line across the state of California to send a clear message to Safeway—we will not let giant corporations eliminate health care.

Picket lines will go up at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, November 21, at the Safeway at 1268 West Capitol Ave. in West Sacramento. The striking workers are asking customers to support them in the fight to save affordable health care by choosing to shop elsewhere. Southern California workers will be available for interviews and photographs.

The extension of picket lines to Northern California Safeway stores is the first phase of the nationalization of the grocery strike. The fight to protect health benefits from complete elimination goes beyond Southern California—workers are standing together across the state, and across the country, to hold the line for affordable health care. Picket lines in Northern California have been met with great support from customers.

More than 70,000 UFCW members in Southern California have been on strike since October 11th. Workers in Northern California supermarkets will be bargaining with Safeway, Albertson’s and other employers next year and are preparing to face similar demands for cuts to health care.

WHO:  Southern California striking workers

WHAT:  Extension of picket lines to Sacramento-area Safeway stores

WHEN:  Friday, November 21, 2003 at 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Safeway, 1268 West Capitol Ave., West Sacramento

November 21, 2003

California Supermarket Strike hits local Safeway stores

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR NOVEMBER 22, 2003

CALIFORNIA SUPERMARKET STRIKE HITS LOCAL SAFEWAY STORES

National Picket Lines to Hit Washington Area Safeway Stores this Weekend

70,000 Supermarket Workers on Strike for Affordable Health Benefits

Directions

Safeway shoppers in the Washington area will likely see picket lines at their local stores this weekend. After six weeks on the streets, Southern California supermarket workers are taking their fight across the country. From the San Francisco Bay to the Chesapeake, Safeway shoppers will be confronted by striking UFCW members asking them: Do Not Shop Safeway.

Local labor, religious and community leaders, joined by hundreds of striking and supporting union members, will launch the local campaign at noon on Saturday, November 22, at the Safeway store at 6500 Piney Branch Road NW in Washington, DC. More than 200 striking UFCW members from California will be joined by workers from West Virginia, acting in support, will blanket Safeway stores in Washington, D.C. and Maryland and ask customers to take their grocery business to a more responsible employer.

More than 70,000 United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) members in Southern California have been on strike against Vons, owned by Safeway, Albertsons and Ralphs, owned by Kroger, for six weeks. 4,000 Kroger workers in West Virginia have been holding the line for affordable health care at work against the Safeway-led charge to destroy health benefits for workers and their families.

Southern California strikers have extended picket lines to Safeway stores in the San Francisco Bay area and throughout Northern California. The DC-area extension is the latest push to educate consumers about Safeway’s anti-worker agenda.

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WHO: Striking supermarket workers, national and local labor leaders, religious and community leaders.

WHAT: Hold the Line for Health Care – Pickets Hit Local Safeway Stores

WHEN: 12:00 noon, Saturday, November 22, 2003

WHERE: Safeway, 6500 Piney Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC

Directions

November 18, 2003

Military Vets Challenge Award to Tyson Foods

Washington, DC – Veterans will protest tomorrow, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce building, 1615 H Street NW, Washington D.C. They will demonstrate their disgust over Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to present Tyson Foods the “”Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.”” The award is meant to recognize unique support to National Guard and Reserve employees. The veterans, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 538, will speak out on Tyson Foods’ disgraceful conduct in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where 470 workers have been on strike since February 28, 2003.

The veterans say it is working families that pay the price to defend the country and John Tyson takes the credit, just as workers produce the Tyson products and John Tyson takes all the profit.

Tyson has targeted American living and working standards with demands to lower wage scales, gut health care and cut retirement benefits. The fight in Jefferson is part of company-wide assault designed to reduce living standards for workers across the country to the level of its lowest paid employees. Tyson Foods is the giant of the meat industry and is using its power to remake the industry according to its low wage, low benefit standards.

UFCW Local 538 President Mike Rice said in a statement read by the striking veterans at the demonstration in Washington, “”We are partriots. We believe in American values. We support our brothers and sisters in the National Guard and Reserve. Returning veterans have earned our thanks and our respect. In Jefferson, Tyson Foods shows its contempt for veterans and workers with demands for wages and benefits that cannot support a family. Is this what our National Guard and Reservists are fighting for?””

Members of UFCW Local 538 went on strike because their families can’t afford what Tyson demands: a cut of $2 an hour for all new employees; a freeze in wages for current workers; the elimination of pensions for all new employees; a freeze in pension benefits for current workers; a shift in health care costs to employees making coverage unaffordable for many families and unaffordable for almost all families of new employees. There have been no negotiations between Local 538 and Tyson Foods since February.

For more information: www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org

November 17, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Picket Lines to Fresno

Press Materials (pdf)

After five weeks on strike, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union are extending picket lines to Fresno Safeway stores. Picket lines are now up at Safeway in San Francisco, Oakland, Castro Valley and Hayward. Strikers are holding the line across the state of California to send a clear message to Safeway—we will not let giant corporations eliminate health care.

Picket lines will go up at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 16, at the Safeway at 5638 E. King’s Canyon in Fresno. The striking workers are asking customers to support them in the fight to save affordable health care by choosing to shop elsewhere. Southern California workers will be available for interviews and photographs.

The extension of picket lines to Northern California Safeway stores is the first phase of the nationalization of the grocery strike. The fight to protect health benefits from complete elimination goes beyond Southern California—workers are standing together across the state, and across the country, to hold the line for affordable health care. Picket lines in Northern California have been met with great support from customers.

More than 70,000 UFCW members in Southern California have been on strike since October 11th. Workers in Northern California supermarkets will be bargaining with Safeway, Albertson’s and other employers next year and are preparing to face similar demands for cuts to health care.

WHO: Southern California striking workers

WHAT: Extension of picket lines to Fresno Safeway stores

WHEN: Sunday, November 16, 2003 at 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Safeway, 5638 E. King’s Canyon, Fresno

November 14, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Picket Lines to East Bay

(Oakland)—A few days after extending lines to San Francisco, Southern California supermarket strikers have moved across the Bay and are setting up pickets at Safeway in Hayward and Castro Valley.

The striking supermarket workers will ask customers not to shop Safeway until the giant supermarket ends its demands for the elimination of health care benefits at work.

Who: Striking supermarket workers from Southern California

What: Extend picket lines to Northern California–East Bay Safeway stores

When: Noon, November 14, 2003  Where: Safeway, 5130 Broadway Street, Oakland, California

Press Backgrounder 11/14 (pdf)

November 12, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Picket Line to Northern California Safeway/Vons Stores

(San Francisco)—Seventy-thousand members of seven United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions on strike against Safeway/Vons in Southern California—and locked out by Albertsons and Kroger/Ralphs—will extend picket lines today to Northern California Safeway/Vons stores. The striking supermarket workers will ask customers not to shop Safeway/Vons until the giant supermarket ends its demands for the elimination of health care benefits at work.
WHO:  Striking supermarket workers from Southern California
What:   Extend picket lines to Northern California Safeway/Vons storesWhen:  Noon, November 11, 2003

Where: Safeway/Vons, 2020 Market Street—Corner of Market and Church—San Francisco, California

November 7, 2003

Supermarket Strike Spreads as Picket Lines Begin Move to Northern California Safeway Stores

November The street fight for affordable health care is about to get bigger as striking Southern California supermarket workers bring their picket lines to Northern California Safeway stores. In advance of the picket lines, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today launched an air campaign with a multi-station radio ad campaign with one spot that targets Safeway CEO Steve Burd’s stock sales immediately prior to the onset of the strike. According to the ad, Burd dumped about $20 million worth of stock before the strike. Safeway stock prices have plummeted since the dispute began. Other ads feature a working mom and a child of a striking worker asking shoppers not to patronize Safeway.

Picket lines will go up at selected Northern California Safeway stores in the next several days and will continue indefinitely. UFCW members working in those stores will continue on the job according to their contracts, but pickets will ask customers to honor the line and to shop elsewhere. The Northern California action is the first step in the nationalization of the supermarket strike. UFCW International President Doug Dority announced last week that he would authorize the extension of picket lines across the country. Following the Dority announcement, newspaper ads featuring strikers and the health care issue appeared in Washington, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle and Northern California. A separate ad on CEO Steve Burd’s management record ran in the Wall Street Journal.

UFCW members are bargaining with Safeway, Kroger and Albertson’s in Arizona, Indiana, Oregon and Tennessee and are preparing for possible walk-outs.

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Copies of the radio commericals are attached:

COMMERCIAL #1

As working moms, we have to make sure our kids have the health care they need when they need it. As Safeway employees, we sacrificed wage increases so our kids could have good medical coverage. Now, this giant corporation wants to slash our health care—not because the company isn’t making a profit—it just wants more. I’m Lucy Medler a 20 year Safeway-Von’s employee and a working mom. I’m asking you from my family to yours, please don’t shop Safeway.

A message from the working men and women of the UFCW – we’re holding the line for health care for all working families.

COMMERCIAL #2

First, Safeway’s CEO Steve Burd sold about $20 million worth of company stock. Then, he forced me and 70,000 other workers onto the streets to save our families’ health benefits. We’re out of work— shoppers have been inconvenienced— and Safeway stock prices have taken a nose dive— but— Steve Burd is looking out for himself. It’s time to turn the tables— I’m Kathy Shafer a 28-year Safeway Vons employee. Send Steve Burd a message–please don’t shop Safeway when you see our picket lines.

A message from the working men and women of the UFCW – we’re holding the line for health care for all working families.

COMMERCIAL #3

It’s just me and my mom at home now. We do great on our own but we need to be able to go to the doctor or buy medicine when we’re sick. My mom’s company Safeway makes money year after year but I guess it’s just not enough. Now they want to take my health care away. My name is James and Safeway forced my mom to strike for me. Please help us keep health care. Don’t shop at Safeway while we’re on strike.

A message from the working men and women of the UFCW – we’re holding the line for health care for all working families.

November 3, 2003

Contract with Schnucks, Dierbergs, Shop

UFCW Local 655 Press Release

View the Statement by UFCW Local 655 President Robert Kelley (pdf)

Go to the St. Louis Strike Page for past updates.

Press Contact–
Ed Finkelstein, spokesperson
314-535-4900/Cell: 314-708-3082

By a secret ballot vote of 4,174 to 945, members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 today accepted a 47-month contract proposal made by the three major local food chains, Schnucks, Dierbergs and Shop ‘n Save, Local 655 President Robert Kelley announced following the ballot counting this morning at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis. The vote immediately ends a 24- day strike, and subsequent lock-out, the union’s first-ever strike in the food industry.

“We are forever grateful to the public and the rest of the labor movement for their outstanding, if not heroic, support of our members during this very trying time for everyone,” Kelley said. “We realize that this was a hardship, not only for our members, but for the public as well. That our customers stood with us will never be forgotten by anyone in this union.”

The union’s negotiating committee did not make a recommendation as to whether or not to accept or reject the proposal, leaving it entirely up to the union’s membership.

“While our members were not totally satisfied with every aspect of this re-negotiated agreement, in the end our members felt it was acceptable because we achieved many of our major goals in what turned out to be an active give-and-take during negotiations, which is what compromise is all about,” Kelley said.

Kelley praised federal mediator Roger Hendrix for his efforts at bringing both sides back to the bargaining table. While the union had been willing to talk from the first day of the strike, the companies steadfastly held to a “no talk” strategy until the mediator intervened late last week. A great deal of community pressure had been building to get both sides back to the bargaining table.

The new contract covers more than 10,000 Local 655 members working at 97 stores throughout the St. Louis area: 57 Schnucks Markets, 19 Dierbergs Markets and 21 Shop ‘n Save stores.

Local 655 is the largest union in the State of Missouri. It represents over 15,000 members working in the 46 counties throughout the eastern half of Missouri. Local 655’s members are employed in food stores (its largest single division), health care, shoe manufacturing, packinghouses, and a number of miscellaneous plants. The union negotiates more than 100 contracts.

Stores in Southern Illinois are represented by UFCW Local 881 based in Chicago who will negotiate their own contracts later this year when their contracts expire.