Workplace Safety & Health


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.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike

via Union Plus

via Union Plus

This year, Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Delano Grape Strike, and provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to two great labor leaders who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and helped to organize one of the most successful strikes in labor history—Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

On September 8, 1965, Filipino farm workers in Delano, Calif., who were members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), walked off the job at table grape farms in the area to protest the low pay and poor working conditions.  The leaders of AWOC knew that a successful strike had to include the many Latino farm workers in Delano, and they reached out to Chavez, Huerta and the NFWA to join them in their fight for dignity and respect on the job. Chavez insisted that the Filipino and Latino strikers work together and take a vow to remain nonviolent, and expanded the goals of the strikers to include the right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining.  Realizing their common goals, the NFWA and AWOC merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee in 1966.

In 1966, Chavez led a strike of California grape workers on a 300 mile march from Delano to Sacramento to raise awareness for their cause.  Soon, the strike spread to thousands of workers and the movement gained national attention and support from around the country, including the support of Robert F. Kennedy.  In 1967, Chavez shifted his focus and urged consumers and supermarket chains to boycott table grapes.  In response to the plight of the farm workers, Americans throughout the country refrained from buying table grapes in a show of support.  After five years of nonviolent strikes, boycotts, marches and fasts, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee succeeded in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with table grape growers in California in 1970—resulting in better pay, benefits and workplace conditions for thousands of farm workers.

In 1972, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee was accepted into the AFL-CIO and changed its name to the United Farmworkers Union. A year later in 1973, Chavez and Huerta led another successful consumer boycott against California grape growers that resulted in the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which allowed farm workers to form unions and bargain for better wages and working conditions.


UFCW Local 23 Helps Pass Paid Sick Leave Law in Pittsburgh

L23 Pitt Paid Sick Leave PassesLast week, Pittsburgh passed a law that guarantees paid sick days for every worker in the city.

The victory was made possible by UFCW Local 23 members who spent weeks canvassing and building community support for the law.

Thanks to their hard work, more than 50,000 Pittsburgh workers will be eligible to earn paid time off so that they have the opportunity to stay home and get better when they become ill. L23 Pitt Paid Sick Leave Canvass

UFCW Local 23 is building on the momentum from this victory and pushing for a statewide paid sick leave law so that all workers in Pennsylvania can enjoy the same benefit.