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December 19, 2003

Food Workers Union Offers Good Faith Gesture to Start Negotiations

Supermarket Employers Challenged to Match Good Faith Move with End of Lockout

In a dramatic gesture to reopen negotiations, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced today that its local unions would remove picket lines from distribution/warehouse facilities at Ralphs, Albertsons and Safeway/Vons.   The move coincides with the renewal of negotiations on Friday, December 19, 2003.

The lines at the distribution/warehouse facilities will be removed on Monday, December 22, 2003.

UFCW leaders from the seven local unions involved in the dispute offered their thanks and appreciation to the 8,000 Teamster members for their personal sacrifice in the fight for affordable health care.

UFCW International President Doug Dority also added his appreciation; “We have never seen such solidarity amongst workers in the supermarket industry as has been displayed by members of the Teamsters union.   On behalf of all UFCW members, we extend our thanks and best wishes for the holidays,” said Dority.

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said that “”The Teamsters will continue to honor picket lines at the retail outlets because our members know that the UFCW’s fight is our fight.””

The UFCW immediately challenged the employers to match the good faith move with an end to the lockout of workers at Ralphs and Albertsons.

The Southern California supermarket strike/lockout began on October 11, 2003 in response to employer demands for the elimination of health benefits.    Workers struck Safeway/Vons; Ralphs and Albertsons immediately locked out workers in support of Safeway.

On November 24, 2003, the UFCW extended picket lines to the distribution/warehouse facilities of these employers and asked Teamsters to honor those picket lines.   The Teamster lines effectively shut down the supply system that had been keeping the near-abandoned stores stocked.  The stores were empty of both product and customers.

On Tuesday at a national solidarity summit, UFCW representatives from across North America pledged their support to both fund the strike and increase the level of activity targeting Safeway operations across the U.S. and Canada.

The union’s move in taking down picket lines indicates the UFCW’s commitment to the bargaining process while preparing for a long battle ahead should the employers refuse to reach a fair and equitable agreement.  UFCW local unions are presenting a comprehensive proposal as the renewed negotiations begin.  (Reminder, a news blackout continues at the request of the Federal Mediator.  No comments will be made concerning the specifics of the bargaining process.)

December 19, 2003

UFCW North American Summit Mobilizes Support For Southern California Supermarket Strike

Following Summit Announcement, 5,000+ Striking and Locked Out Grocery Workers to be Joined by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, UFCW President Doug Dority, and 400+ UFCW Local Union Presidents from across US and Canada in historic march from Century City to grocery store in Beverly Hills

On Tuesday, December 16, 2003, 400+ UFCW local union presidents from across the country and Canada will meet in Century City to discuss ways of supporting the Southern California local unions whose 70,000 members have been on strike or locked out since October 11th.

The private meeting will begin at 8:30 AM at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. At 10:30 AM, the meeting will be open to the press.

At 12 o’clock noon, the leaders will join 5,000+ striking and locked out grocery workers on the street for a march to a Pavilions store in Beverly Hills. This will be the largest demonstration since the strike and lockout began and will send a strong message to consumers that they should not shop at Vons, Pavilions, or Albertsons this holiday season.

More details to be released on Monday.

When: Tuesday, December 16; 10:30 a.m. for Summit Meeting Announcement; 12 noon for March

What: Summit Announcement with major national leaders from Labor, Religious, Women’s, and Entertainment communities; March from the Century Plaza Hotel to a Pavilions store in Beverly Hills

Who: 5,000+ Southern California striking and locked out grocery workers, Doug Dority, President, UFCW International, John Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO, Miguel Contreras, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Entertainment industry celebrity activists (names TBA)Religious leaders (names TBA), Elected officials (names TBA)

Where: March will begin at the Century Plaza hotel, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Century City, and proceed to the Pavilions store at 9467 W Olympic Blvd.

 

December 9, 2003

Holding the Line for Health Care: Support Builds with Labor Movement Contributions

Today, Southern California supermarket workers’ fight to hold the line for health care in the supermarket industry got a major boost with sizeable contributions from  the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers-Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) and the American Income Life Insurance Company (AIL).   The 70,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union have been on strike since October 11, 2003 against Safeway, Kroger and Albertsons.

 
 UFCW International President Doug Dority holding the line at a Safeway store in Washington, DC, joined IUE-CWA President Edward Fire and AIL Vice President Jules Pagano.

IUE-CWA President Edward Fire met with strikers on the picket lines at a Washington, DC, Safeway store and presented his union’s $100,000 contribution to the Hold the Line for Health Care Strike Fund.

“We stand in full support of the UFCW members’ fight to maintain health care benefits.   We fought this same battle with General Electric earlier this year and employers across the country continue the attack on system of health care at work. We need a national public policy solution so that workers and their families no longer have to walk the streets to maintain access to health care,” said Fire.

As the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America, the IUE-CWA represents 80,000 manufacturing workers including 14,000 workers at General Electric.

Roger Smith, President, American Income Life, along with Jules Pagano, Vice President, and Hugh Walsh, Assistant Vice President, presented strikers with a $10,000 contribution from AIL and pledged to contribute $10,000 per month for the duration of the strike.

“”AIL, a wall to wall union company, feels we have a responsibility to support working families and we are proud to support the UFCW in this national fight to hold the line for health care,”” said Jules Pagano, AIL Vice President.

AIL is a nationally recognized insurance carrier that provides services and policies to labor unions and working families.  Headquartered in Waco, Texas, American Income is licensed in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The Transportation Communications International Union (TCU) also pledged a $15,000 contribution to the Hold the Line for Health Care Strike Fund.  TCU President Robert Scardelletti also sent a letter to all TCU local unions encouraging additional contributions.

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December 4, 2003

UFCW Unions in Southern California Sue Albertsons and Ralphs for Violation of

Seven UFCW unions in Southern California on strike against Vons supermarkets today filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Albertsons and Ralphs for
violation of the California Mass Layoff Notification Law (California Labor Code: Section 1400).

The law, passed in 2002, requires that each and every employee individually be given 60 days’ notice prior to any mass layoff. In the current labor/management dispute between seven Southern California UFCW locals, there is a strike against Vons. Ralphs and Albertsons have locked out their employees.

The suit says that no notice of the intent to lockout was given by Ralphs and Albertsons and seeks the back pay and health care and pension payments for 60 days that is stipulated in the law. The unions estimate that the amount owed their union members locked out by the two employers exceeds several hundred million dollars.

The employers have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.
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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 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 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