(Washington, DC)— For the second month in a row, grocery workers across America are coming together in an unprecedented show of strength and solidarity. With nearly half a million United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) grocery workers’ contracts up for negotiation over the next 18 months, grocery workers nationwide are supporting each other through in-store actions and other support-building activities. Workers also have a website, www.groceryworkersunited.org, which offers downloads of flyers, videos, photos and news about the grocery industry.
This is the first time that grocery workers have been united on such a scale. Their movement is growing fast, gaining momentum and generating buzz, as grocery workers nationwide gear up for bargaining in 2007. As Javier Perez of UFCW Local 870, in Oakland, Calif., said, “National bargaining re-enforces the whole concept of what a union means. It means we all band together and struggle for what we think is right.”
Last month, supermarket workers represented by the UFCW launched the national store-to-store movement of grocery workers. Workers wore 850,000 stickers in stores over five days in November, to demonstrate unity and solidarity with other UFCW supermarket employees across the country.
Now community members are voicing their support for grocery workers’ goals: career jobs with affordable health care, and wages that pay the bills. UFCW members across the country have asked customers and the community to stand by them as upcoming contracts are negotiated. And workers have been overwhelmed by the positive response.
As Supa Tong of UFCW Local 400 in Bethesda, Md., noted, “Our customers are very supportive of the stickers. I think that they’ll support us, because we are also members of their community. If we have better wages and health care, it’s good for everyone.”
To celebrate solidarity between grocery workers and the community, UFCW members will wear a special sticker in their stores on December 27-31. The sticker reads, “Grocery workers and community members for good jobs and affordable health care.”
“Everybody needs health care,” said Richard Waits, of Local 44 in Mt. Vernon, Wash. “Our customers support us because they are facing the same issues—paying for health care, supporting their families. Customers have told me that they’re glad we’re fighting for those things, because it helps the whole community.”