WASHINGTON, DC — Grocery workers are standing up to protect good jobs with affordable health care in communities across the country. Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union in eight markets are holding store events today and sending a unified message to supermarket giants.
Supermarkets chains nationwide, like Supervalu, are refusing to agree to provide the affordable health care and living wages their employees deserve. Communities may end up paying the price, with taxpayers shouldering the burden of government paid health care.
Workers are taking action and reaching out to customers at Supervalu-owned stores in Southern California, Oregon, Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Workers at Kroger stores in Toledo and Houston are bargaining with the company now and holding press events in solidarity with the national action.
UFCW members at Supervalu-owned stores – Albertsons, Jewel, Cub Foods, and Acme stores, are concerned about Supervalu’s bargaining agenda with workers in other markets.
“It’s really important that everybody throughout the country has decent contracts, with benefits and wages that allow them to support their families,” says Eileen Fonseca, a Supervalu-owned Acme worker and a member of UFCW Local 1776 in Philadelphia.
Albertsons (Supervalu) workers in Southern California were locked out by the company in a bitter five-month-long strike/lockout in 2003 and 2004. Now, Albertsons (Supervalu) employees there have already voted to authorize a strike due to the company’s irresponsible position at the bargaining table. The current contract expired last month.
“”I want to provide a good life for my family, and I work hard for my employer. Now that the employers are making such huge profits, I think they need to show grocery workers and our families the respect we deserve,” said Sharlette Villacorta, UFCW Local 770 member who works at Albertsons, in Los Angeles, Calif.
With more than 400,000 grocery workers at the bargaining table this year, UFCW members have launched Grocery Workers United – www.groceryworkersunited.com – as a clearinghouse for unity actions.
“We all do the same jobs, and we all work hard,” said Mike Newman, a Kroger worker from Toledo and member of UFCW Local 911. “We just want to be able to pay our bills, and I think the community understands that. They know what you need to make a living wage here.”
The actions today are all part of a growing national unity bargaining movement among UFCW members working in the grocery industry.
This year, 400,000 UFCW members working the grocery industry will be negotiating contracts with their employers, seeking to improve jobs for all grocery workers. The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers, with nearly one million in the grocery industry.