Supermarket Employers Challenged to Match Good Faith Move with End of Lockout
In a dramatic gesture to reopen negotiations, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced today that its local unions would remove picket lines from distribution/warehouse facilities at Ralphs, Albertsons and Safeway/Vons. The move coincides with the renewal of negotiations on Friday, December 19, 2003.
The lines at the distribution/warehouse facilities will be removed on Monday, December 22, 2003.
UFCW leaders from the seven local unions involved in the dispute offered their thanks and appreciation to the 8,000 Teamster members for their personal sacrifice in the fight for affordable health care.
UFCW International President Doug Dority also added his appreciation; “We have never seen such solidarity amongst workers in the supermarket industry as has been displayed by members of the Teamsters union. On behalf of all UFCW members, we extend our thanks and best wishes for the holidays,” said Dority.
Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said that “”The Teamsters will continue to honor picket lines at the retail outlets because our members know that the UFCW’s fight is our fight.””
The UFCW immediately challenged the employers to match the good faith move with an end to the lockout of workers at Ralphs and Albertsons.
The Southern California supermarket strike/lockout began on October 11, 2003 in response to employer demands for the elimination of health benefits. Workers struck Safeway/Vons; Ralphs and Albertsons immediately locked out workers in support of Safeway.
On November 24, 2003, the UFCW extended picket lines to the distribution/warehouse facilities of these employers and asked Teamsters to honor those picket lines. The Teamster lines effectively shut down the supply system that had been keeping the near-abandoned stores stocked. The stores were empty of both product and customers.
On Tuesday at a national solidarity summit, UFCW representatives from across North America pledged their support to both fund the strike and increase the level of activity targeting Safeway operations across the U.S. and Canada.
The union’s move in taking down picket lines indicates the UFCW’s commitment to the bargaining process while preparing for a long battle ahead should the employers refuse to reach a fair and equitable agreement. UFCW local unions are presenting a comprehensive proposal as the renewed negotiations begin. (Reminder, a news blackout continues at the request of the Federal Mediator. No comments will be made concerning the specifics of the bargaining process.)