UFCW El Super workers rally in Los Angeles to call on a fair contract for workers and better working conditions throughout the grocery chain.
More than 100 workers, labor leaders, community activists, students, and clergy members gathered outside a South Los Angeles El Super store last week to demand a fair contract for union grocery workers employed by the chain. Workers at seven El Super stores across California, Nevada and Arizona currently have a union voice on the job. The workers are fighting for a fair contract that will raise standards across the 45-store grocery chain.
“We would like the company to pay us sick leave and give us 40 hours a week – a real full time job,” said Fermin Rodriguez, a cashier and shop steward with UFCW Local 770. “All workers at El Super deserve to be healthy and that’s why we are asking for sick leave. We’re here to send a message to workers and families that we will keep fighting for you and won’t give up until we win. Every El Super worker deserves a fair contract.”
El Super workers represented by UFCW Locals 324, 770, 1167 and 1428 are part of a growing movement of unionized workers at ethnic markets. Rapidly expanding chains like El Super underscore the importance of union workers achieving fair contracts that set higher standards across the chain. While El Super only had 14 stores as recently as 2008, the chain now employs over 4,000 workers and is opening 5 to 6 stores in the U.S. each year.
Martin Ayala, who has worked as a meat clerk at El Super for five years, explained why he was marching: “We are fighting for our benefits and for our rights because the El Super company has rejected all of what we’ve asked for at the bargaining committee. We’re asking for sick days because it’s important – we come into work sick, which is not respectful for the workers or the customers. We are forced to work sick and we handle food, so this is not good.”
Among the issues that El Super has refused to address in bargaining are respect on the job, seniority rights, health benefits and a guarantee of 40 hours per week for full time workers. The Mexico-based retailer that owns 80 percent of El Super, Grupo Comercial Chedraui, took in $120 million in 2012, and co-President Alfredo Chedraui Obeso’s net worth was reported to be over $1 billion as of January 2013.