Food Safety


More Than One Dozen El Super Grocery Workers and Supporters Arrested During Nonviolent Civil Disobedience and Candlelight Vigil

—Protestors Take Over Busy “Five Points” Intersection in East LA in Defiance of LAPD “Order to Disperse”—

MEDIA 5 MEDIA 4East Los Angeles, California— On Wednesday, November 18, more than five hundred El Super workers, labor, community and clergy leaders staged a nonviolent civil disobedience and candlelight vigil at the busy “Five Points” intersection near El Super’s East LA location.

Protestors took to the streets for the second time in less than a month to ratchet up the pressure on El Super grocery stores decision-makers on the eve of scheduled contract negotiations. More than a dozen protestors were arrested after forming a prayer circle in the center of Cesar E. Chavez Ave. after LAPD issued an order to disperse.El Super #17 cashier Flora Castaneda was among the protestors arrested. She said: “Change demands that people like me must stand up. I don’t want to get arrested, but if we don’t stand up for ourselves, everything will stay the same.” Castaneda, a single mother of three children, has worked at El Super for more than eleven years.

Castaneda is one of approximately 600 UFCW union members who work for the El Super chain. For over two years, she and her unionized co-workers have been seeking an agreement with El Super that ensures a 40-hour guarantee for full-time workers, adequate paid sick leave, seniority protections, fair wages, affordable health benefits, the right to organize without retaliation, and respect in the workplace.

Last July, El Super entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Government to resolve the National Labor Relations Board’s allegation that it violated workers’ federally protected labor rights. It agreed to return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with UFCW. MEDIA 6

However, since returning to the negotiations with UFCW on August 18, after more than a year of stalling, El Super hasn’t made a significant progress towards an acceptable deal. They have agreed to negotiate a total of five days, over four months. Indeed, El Super has even failed to meet its legal obligation to provide information necessary to bargaining.

Grupo Commercial Chedraui is Mexico’s third largest retailer. Chedraui operates over 200 markets in Mexico, and 52 El Super stores in the U.S. In 2014, it earned nine-figure profits. Yet, Chedraui’s largely immigrant workforce in the U.S. toils in jobs that undermine basic industry labor standards. MEDIA 3

A multinational coalition filed complaints Nov. 12 with the federal government alleging Chedraui is violating the North American Free Trade Agreement and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines by engaging in alleged “workers’ rights abuses” in the U.S. and Mexico.

The NAFTA-related complaint against Chedraui Commercial Group was filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers in California, Frente Autentico del Trabajo, in Mexico, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, in California, and the Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research, a Mexico and U.S.-based NGO focused in Latin America.

Maria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, spoke during the rally preceding the nonviolent civil disobedience. “I am so proud to stand here in solidarity with El Super workers and my fellow leaders in this community as we protest El Super’s shamefully irresponsible approach to doing business in our communities” said Ms. Brenes.

Union Workers Call for Boycott of El Super

El-Super-Rally-3-300x200Union members, clergy and more than 100 community groups gathered for an Ash Wednesday rally in support of UFCW members who are fighting for a fair contract at El Super grocery stores in southern California. Six hundred UFCW members have been working without a contract since September, 2013. In response to the company’s steadfast refusal to provide their employees with a fair contract, union El Super workers have called for a consumer boycott of the grocery chain.

El Super is a 49-store grocery chain in the American Southwest, owned by Grupo Comercial Chedraui, Mexico’s third largest retailer. Seven stores in southern California currently are union, represented by UFCW Locals 324, 770, 1428 and 1167. The employees are working together to achieve adequate paid sick leave, seniority rights, guaranteed 40-hour work weeks for full-time employees and a fair wage in a new contract.

Unfortunately, rather than working cooperatively to meet their employees’ needs, El Super focused its efforts on persuading union members to vote out their union. The company held captive audience meetings conducted by El Super CEO Carlos A. Smith, pushing a decertification vote. The workers were not fooled. On December 12, 2014 they voted – by a more than 3-1 majority – in favor of their union.

After the recertification vote, the workers promptly asked the company to return to the bargaining table. El Super ignored, and then rejected that request. El Super’s actions, and its steadfast refusal to address the workers’ priorities, led to the call for a consumer boycott of all El Super markets on December 20, 2014.

The boycott will continue until El Super workers achieve their core goal of winning respect and a fair contract.

To show your support for a fair contract for El Super workers, please visit

UFCW and OUR Walmart Members Help Calif. Pass Paid Sick Day Legislation

OUR-Walmart-CA-Lobby-Day-297x300After intense lobbying from UFCW members and members of OUR Walmart, both houses of the California legislature have passed a bill guaranteeing workers up to three paid sick days a year.

The legislation includes part-time and temporary workers, making it one of the strongest in the nation. Home health care workers are exempted. Governor Jerry Brown has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

About 40 percent of California’s workforce is currently not eligible for paid sick days. Across the state, retail workers successfully made the case that no one should be forced to risk their job and their livelihood just because they get sick.

The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid sick leave to workers. Late last year, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the FAMILY Act, a bill to create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. House Republicans have refused to bring it up for a vote.

In the meantime, UFCW members, OUR Walmart, and their allies will continue to push for action at the state and local levels.