• Microphone on stage

    Press Releases.

    For media inquiries, please contact Casey Hoag at press@ufcw.org, choag@ufcw.org or 202-721-8143.

December 4, 2003

Press Briefing: Lies, Damn Lies And Company Lies

THE FACTS ON THE IMPACT OF THE COMPANIES’ HEALTH CARE PROPOSALS

  • Press Packet (UFCW Statement, Acturarial Analysis of Benefits, and more) (pdf)

Corporate flacks have tried to reduce the struggle to save affordable health care to a matter of premium co-pays. The reality is the employers are attempting to effectively eliminate health care protection for 70,000 Southern California supermarket jobs.

Health care expert Sidney Abrams will strip the facade from the supermarket giants’ misinformation campaign on the impact of their health care proposals, and expose the real and devastating consequences for Southern California workers and communities at a press briefing at 10:30 A.M., October 22 at UFCW Local 770, 603 Shatto Place, Los Angeles.

International Executive Vice President and Director of Collective Bargaining, Sarah Palmer Amos will also present a national overview on the growing number of health care strikes.

Mr. Abrams is an actuary with more than 30 years of experience providing services to major health care plans, including the trust fund covering Southern California supermarket workers. He serves as an insurance industry representative on the CalPERS Board of Administration, and is Chair of the Health Benefits Committee and Vice Chair of the Benefits and Program Administration Committee. Mr. Abrams is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries and an Associate of the Society of Actuaries.

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December 4, 2003

UFCW Supermarket Workers Withdraw Pickets from Ralphs Stores

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA UFCW Press Contacts Ellen Anreder, 818-591-7480 Barbara Maynard, 323-850-1356

Picket lines will be withdrawn by 12:00 noon from Ralphs stores in Southern California.

Representatives of 70,000 striking and locked-out supermarket workers announced this decision this morning in simultaneous press conferences in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara and Palm Desert.

Supermarket workers will continue to be locked out of their stores by Ralphs management in a regional labor dispute that is about to enter its fourth week. Instead of picketing their own stores, Ralphs employees will supplement picket lines at — among other strategic locations — Vons and Pavilions stores, where employees are on strike, and Albertsons stores, where employees are locked out.

“”Please help us in our struggle to save affordable health care by not shopping at Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons during this dispute,”” said a Ralphs worker. “”We’ve taken down our picket lines at Ralphs for our customers’ convenience.””

Overwhelming popular support for the employees has resulted in empty supermarket aisles and millions of dollars in losses for Ralphs (Kroger Co., NYSE: KR), Vons and Pavilions (Safeway Inc., NYSE: SWY) and Albertsons (NYSE: ABS).

“”The public has endured enough,”” a UFCW spokesperson said today. “”Between the MTA transit strike in Los Angeles and the supermarket strike and lockouts — not to mention the horrific tragedy of the Southern California wildfires — the people need some good news for a change. We are extremely grateful for the public’s support,”” the spokesperson continued.

 

 

November 24, 2003

Picket Lines Spread to Supermarket Warehouses and Distribution Centers

The Southern California supermarket strike gaining new momentum and support with the extension of picket lines from coast to coast over the weekend will now expand the fight to hold the line for health care to the warehouse and distribution facilities of all three supermarket chains.
Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) on strike at Safeway-owned Vons stores and locked out at Ralph’s and Albertson’s stores will ask Teamster members to hold the line for health care and honor their picket lines. A Teamster decision not to cross the lines would effectively shut down the distribution system that supplies the retail outlets, and  would bring increased pressure on the supermarket employers who are already facing strong consumer support for the workers.
UFCW members believe they and the Teamsters have a common cause and a common enemy. A win for corporate greed in the store workers’ street fight for health care would put benefits at risk across the entire supermarket industry. While the supermarket employers in their most recent Teamster contract agreed to maintain existing health benefits, the companies’ refusal to agree to a similar provision to maintain benefits for store employees would spell trouble for the Teamsters in their next round of negotiations. The effective elimination of store employee health benefits, as the employers are demanding, would put Teamster benefits next on the chopping block, and could weaken their position at the bargaining table.
A UFCW-Teamster united front would build on the growing solidarity among all worker and other progressive organizations in support of the supermarket strike. On November 22, thousands of workers and supporters from women’s, religious, student and community organizations turned out in Hold the Line for America’s Health Care rallies in Oakland and Orange County, California as well as Washington D.C. National AFL-CIO President John Sweeney announced that over a quarter of a million dollars has already been raised through the Hold the Line Fund, and that the 13 million member federation would continue to raise funds to provide emergency relief for striking and locked out workers.
November 24, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Pickets to Sacramento

As they enter their sixth week on strike, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union are extending picket lines to Sacramento-area Safeway stores. Picket lines are now up at Safeways in San Francisco, Oakland, Castro Valley, Hayward, and Fresno. Strikers are holding the line across the state of California to send a clear message to Safeway—we will not let giant corporations eliminate health care.

Picket lines will go up at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, November 21, at the Safeway at 1268 West Capitol Ave. in West Sacramento. The striking workers are asking customers to support them in the fight to save affordable health care by choosing to shop elsewhere. Southern California workers will be available for interviews and photographs.

The extension of picket lines to Northern California Safeway stores is the first phase of the nationalization of the grocery strike. The fight to protect health benefits from complete elimination goes beyond Southern California—workers are standing together across the state, and across the country, to hold the line for affordable health care. Picket lines in Northern California have been met with great support from customers.

More than 70,000 UFCW members in Southern California have been on strike since October 11th. Workers in Northern California supermarkets will be bargaining with Safeway, Albertson’s and other employers next year and are preparing to face similar demands for cuts to health care.

WHO:  Southern California striking workers

WHAT:  Extension of picket lines to Sacramento-area Safeway stores

WHEN:  Friday, November 21, 2003 at 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Safeway, 1268 West Capitol Ave., West Sacramento

November 21, 2003

California Supermarket Strike hits local Safeway stores

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR NOVEMBER 22, 2003

CALIFORNIA SUPERMARKET STRIKE HITS LOCAL SAFEWAY STORES

National Picket Lines to Hit Washington Area Safeway Stores this Weekend

70,000 Supermarket Workers on Strike for Affordable Health Benefits

Directions

Safeway shoppers in the Washington area will likely see picket lines at their local stores this weekend. After six weeks on the streets, Southern California supermarket workers are taking their fight across the country. From the San Francisco Bay to the Chesapeake, Safeway shoppers will be confronted by striking UFCW members asking them: Do Not Shop Safeway.

Local labor, religious and community leaders, joined by hundreds of striking and supporting union members, will launch the local campaign at noon on Saturday, November 22, at the Safeway store at 6500 Piney Branch Road NW in Washington, DC. More than 200 striking UFCW members from California will be joined by workers from West Virginia, acting in support, will blanket Safeway stores in Washington, D.C. and Maryland and ask customers to take their grocery business to a more responsible employer.

More than 70,000 United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) members in Southern California have been on strike against Vons, owned by Safeway, Albertsons and Ralphs, owned by Kroger, for six weeks. 4,000 Kroger workers in West Virginia have been holding the line for affordable health care at work against the Safeway-led charge to destroy health benefits for workers and their families.

Southern California strikers have extended picket lines to Safeway stores in the San Francisco Bay area and throughout Northern California. The DC-area extension is the latest push to educate consumers about Safeway’s anti-worker agenda.

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WHO: Striking supermarket workers, national and local labor leaders, religious and community leaders.

WHAT: Hold the Line for Health Care – Pickets Hit Local Safeway Stores

WHEN: 12:00 noon, Saturday, November 22, 2003

WHERE: Safeway, 6500 Piney Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC

Directions

November 18, 2003

Military Vets Challenge Award to Tyson Foods

Washington, DC – Veterans will protest tomorrow, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce building, 1615 H Street NW, Washington D.C. They will demonstrate their disgust over Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to present Tyson Foods the “”Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.”” The award is meant to recognize unique support to National Guard and Reserve employees. The veterans, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 538, will speak out on Tyson Foods’ disgraceful conduct in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where 470 workers have been on strike since February 28, 2003.

The veterans say it is working families that pay the price to defend the country and John Tyson takes the credit, just as workers produce the Tyson products and John Tyson takes all the profit.

Tyson has targeted American living and working standards with demands to lower wage scales, gut health care and cut retirement benefits. The fight in Jefferson is part of company-wide assault designed to reduce living standards for workers across the country to the level of its lowest paid employees. Tyson Foods is the giant of the meat industry and is using its power to remake the industry according to its low wage, low benefit standards.

UFCW Local 538 President Mike Rice said in a statement read by the striking veterans at the demonstration in Washington, “”We are partriots. We believe in American values. We support our brothers and sisters in the National Guard and Reserve. Returning veterans have earned our thanks and our respect. In Jefferson, Tyson Foods shows its contempt for veterans and workers with demands for wages and benefits that cannot support a family. Is this what our National Guard and Reservists are fighting for?””

Members of UFCW Local 538 went on strike because their families can’t afford what Tyson demands: a cut of $2 an hour for all new employees; a freeze in wages for current workers; the elimination of pensions for all new employees; a freeze in pension benefits for current workers; a shift in health care costs to employees making coverage unaffordable for many families and unaffordable for almost all families of new employees. There have been no negotiations between Local 538 and Tyson Foods since February.

For more information: www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org

November 17, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Picket Lines to Fresno

Press Materials (pdf)

After five weeks on strike, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union are extending picket lines to Fresno Safeway stores. Picket lines are now up at Safeway in San Francisco, Oakland, Castro Valley and Hayward. Strikers are holding the line across the state of California to send a clear message to Safeway—we will not let giant corporations eliminate health care.

Picket lines will go up at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 16, at the Safeway at 5638 E. King’s Canyon in Fresno. The striking workers are asking customers to support them in the fight to save affordable health care by choosing to shop elsewhere. Southern California workers will be available for interviews and photographs.

The extension of picket lines to Northern California Safeway stores is the first phase of the nationalization of the grocery strike. The fight to protect health benefits from complete elimination goes beyond Southern California—workers are standing together across the state, and across the country, to hold the line for affordable health care. Picket lines in Northern California have been met with great support from customers.

More than 70,000 UFCW members in Southern California have been on strike since October 11th. Workers in Northern California supermarkets will be bargaining with Safeway, Albertson’s and other employers next year and are preparing to face similar demands for cuts to health care.

WHO: Southern California striking workers

WHAT: Extension of picket lines to Fresno Safeway stores

WHEN: Sunday, November 16, 2003 at 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Safeway, 5638 E. King’s Canyon, Fresno

November 14, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Picket Lines to East Bay

(Oakland)—A few days after extending lines to San Francisco, Southern California supermarket strikers have moved across the Bay and are setting up pickets at Safeway in Hayward and Castro Valley.

The striking supermarket workers will ask customers not to shop Safeway until the giant supermarket ends its demands for the elimination of health care benefits at work.

Who: Striking supermarket workers from Southern California

What: Extend picket lines to Northern California–East Bay Safeway stores

When: Noon, November 14, 2003  Where: Safeway, 5130 Broadway Street, Oakland, California

Press Backgrounder 11/14 (pdf)

November 12, 2003

Southern California Supermarket Workers Extend Picket Line to Northern California Safeway/Vons Stores

(San Francisco)—Seventy-thousand members of seven United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions on strike against Safeway/Vons in Southern California—and locked out by Albertsons and Kroger/Ralphs—will extend picket lines today to Northern California Safeway/Vons stores. The striking supermarket workers will ask customers not to shop Safeway/Vons until the giant supermarket ends its demands for the elimination of health care benefits at work.
WHO:  Striking supermarket workers from Southern California
What:   Extend picket lines to Northern California Safeway/Vons storesWhen:  Noon, November 11, 2003

Where: Safeway/Vons, 2020 Market Street—Corner of Market and Church—San Francisco, California

November 7, 2003

Supermarket Strike Spreads as Picket Lines Begin Move to Northern California Safeway Stores

November The street fight for affordable health care is about to get bigger as striking Southern California supermarket workers bring their picket lines to Northern California Safeway stores. In advance of the picket lines, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) today launched an air campaign with a multi-station radio ad campaign with one spot that targets Safeway CEO Steve Burd’s stock sales immediately prior to the onset of the strike. According to the ad, Burd dumped about $20 million worth of stock before the strike. Safeway stock prices have plummeted since the dispute began. Other ads feature a working mom and a child of a striking worker asking shoppers not to patronize Safeway.

Picket lines will go up at selected Northern California Safeway stores in the next several days and will continue indefinitely. UFCW members working in those stores will continue on the job according to their contracts, but pickets will ask customers to honor the line and to shop elsewhere. The Northern California action is the first step in the nationalization of the supermarket strike. UFCW International President Doug Dority announced last week that he would authorize the extension of picket lines across the country. Following the Dority announcement, newspaper ads featuring strikers and the health care issue appeared in Washington, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle and Northern California. A separate ad on CEO Steve Burd’s management record ran in the Wall Street Journal.

UFCW members are bargaining with Safeway, Kroger and Albertson’s in Arizona, Indiana, Oregon and Tennessee and are preparing for possible walk-outs.

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Copies of the radio commericals are attached:

COMMERCIAL #1

As working moms, we have to make sure our kids have the health care they need when they need it. As Safeway employees, we sacrificed wage increases so our kids could have good medical coverage. Now, this giant corporation wants to slash our health care—not because the company isn’t making a profit—it just wants more. I’m Lucy Medler a 20 year Safeway-Von’s employee and a working mom. I’m asking you from my family to yours, please don’t shop Safeway.

A message from the working men and women of the UFCW – we’re holding the line for health care for all working families.

COMMERCIAL #2

First, Safeway’s CEO Steve Burd sold about $20 million worth of company stock. Then, he forced me and 70,000 other workers onto the streets to save our families’ health benefits. We’re out of work— shoppers have been inconvenienced— and Safeway stock prices have taken a nose dive— but— Steve Burd is looking out for himself. It’s time to turn the tables— I’m Kathy Shafer a 28-year Safeway Vons employee. Send Steve Burd a message–please don’t shop Safeway when you see our picket lines.

A message from the working men and women of the UFCW – we’re holding the line for health care for all working families.

COMMERCIAL #3

It’s just me and my mom at home now. We do great on our own but we need to be able to go to the doctor or buy medicine when we’re sick. My mom’s company Safeway makes money year after year but I guess it’s just not enough. Now they want to take my health care away. My name is James and Safeway forced my mom to strike for me. Please help us keep health care. Don’t shop at Safeway while we’re on strike.

A message from the working men and women of the UFCW – we’re holding the line for health care for all working families.