October 14, 2003
UFCW News 10/10: UFCW Supermarket Workers Reject Employers
Friday, Oct. 10, 2003
UFCW Supermarket Workers Reject Employers’ Offer Vote Overwhelmingly To Protect Health Care and Retirement Benefits
In elections this week at seven local unions of the United Food and Commercial Workers, almost 70,000 supermarket workers in Southern California voted overwhelmingly to reject the demands of their employers and to authorize their leaders to call a strike. The vote to reject the proposals surpassed 97 percent.
Some 85 percent of workers eligible to vote did so in an unprecedented turnout of support for rejection of the offer.
The three supermarket companies – Albertson’s, Safeway (Vons) and Kroger (Ralphs) – have been working together to impose a package of severe cuts in benefits for their employees. In addition, they aim to set up a “”second tier”” of wages, benefits and working conditions for new employees – in effect making them second-class citizens in their own workplaces.
Workers have also announced that they will only target one supermaket chain in order to avoid inconveniencing their customers. Workers at the two other supermarket chains will urge their employers to allow them to stay on the job and not to act on Employer threats to lock the workers out of the stores. The other chains are urged by the seven locals on behalf of their customers and neighbors not to spread the dispute by engaging in a retaliatory lockout .
The seven local unions represent supermarket employees and other workers from Bishop in the north to the Mexican border in the south and from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Nevada and Arizona borders in the east.
The 1.4-million-strong United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is the largest private-sector union in North America. It represents employees of supermarkets, pharmacies, health agencies and other companies and organizations throughout the United States and Canada.
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