News and Updates
Grocery Workers United
May 25, 2007
Washington, DC—Grocery workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) are fighting back against the Kroger Company’s nineteenth century bargaining tactics. Kroger seems to be operating under that century’s model of “robber baron bargaining”—pushing workers to the brink and forcing strikes, all to justify greedy demands at the bargaining table and in the community.
In Houston, where 12,700 workers are involved in negotiations with Kroger, UFCW members turned out in droves to vote by over 97% to authorize a strike against the supermarket company.
“There’s no excuse for Kroger’s behavior,” said Pat O’Neill, UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of Collective Bargaining. “By beating on their own workers, Kroger is hurting morale in the stores, and customers are changing their shopping habits in an attempt to avoid a crisis at their grocery store. Ultimately, it accomplishes little for either side at the table.”
It’s time to put an end to this kind of “crisis bargaining” where a profitable company like Kroger comes to the table making outrageous demands of its hourly workers–threatening to chronically underfund health care and risk huge benefit cuts for workers.
UFCW members understand that the rising cost of health care in the U.S. is a crisis we all must face together. In previous contracts, Houston members have worked diligently to lower health care costs. Workers are picking up their share. Their hard work has made Kroger the hugely profitable chain it is today.
But Kroger’s greed just keeps increasing. The company seems intent on driving workers to the brink of a strike, and threatening to disrupt tens of thousands of consumers in an attempt to extract even more from its workforce.
Kroger can’t have it both ways. CEO David Dillon crows to investors and the public that when Wal-Mart expands its operations, Kroger gains market share, increases sales and boosts profits. There’s no excuse, then, to claim that competition from the low-wage, no-benefit Wal-Mart should require workers to strike in order to save affordable health care.
In Southern California, Seattle, Oregon, Montana, Illinois, Detroit, Toledo, and St Louis, UFCW members working in the grocery industry are also in tough negotiations with mammoth employers like Kroger and Supervalu. Members throughout the country are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families, and communities.
For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at www.groceryworkersunited.org.
December 27, 2006
(Washington, DC)— For the second month in a row, grocery workers across America are coming together in an unprecedented show of strength and solidarity. With nearly half a million United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) grocery workers’ contracts up for negotiation over the next 18 months, grocery workers nationwide are supporting each other through in-store actions and other support-building activities. Workers also have a website, www.groceryworkersunited.org, which offers downloads of flyers, videos, photos and news about the grocery industry.
This is the first time that grocery workers have been united on such a scale. Their movement is growing fast, gaining momentum and generating buzz, as grocery workers nationwide gear up for bargaining in 2007. As Javier Perez of UFCW Local 870, in Oakland, Calif., said, “National bargaining re-enforces the whole concept of what a union means. It means we all band together and struggle for what we think is right.”
Last month, supermarket workers represented by the UFCW launched the national store-to-store movement of grocery workers. Workers wore 850,000 stickers in stores over five days in November, to demonstrate unity and solidarity with other UFCW supermarket employees across the country.
Now community members are voicing their support for grocery workers’ goals: career jobs with affordable health care, and wages that pay the bills. UFCW members across the country have asked customers and the community to stand by them as upcoming contracts are negotiated. And workers have been overwhelmed by the positive response.
As Supa Tong of UFCW Local 400 in Bethesda, Md., noted, “Our customers are very supportive of the stickers. I think that they’ll support us, because we are also members of their community. If we have better wages and health care, it’s good for everyone.”
To celebrate solidarity between grocery workers and the community, UFCW members will wear a special sticker in their stores on December 27-31. The sticker reads, “Grocery workers and community members for good jobs and affordable health care.”
“Everybody needs health care,” said Richard Waits, of Local 44 in Mt. Vernon, Wash. “Our customers support us because they are facing the same issues—paying for health care, supporting their families. Customers have told me that they’re glad we’re fighting for those things, because it helps the whole community.”
November 22, 2006
(Washington, DC)—Across the country, grocery workers want career jobs with affordable health care and are standing together to achieve their goal. Supermarket workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) have launched a national store-to-store movement of workers supporting each other through in-store actions, a website and other support-building activities.
UFCW members at supermarkets across the country will wear stickers to work on November 21-26th, to demonstrate unity in showing their appreciation for the loyalty of the customers and communities that they serve.
The stickers are part of a larger, nationwide effort to bargain for better jobs for grocery workers. Nearly half a million UFCW grocery workers’ contracts are up for negotiation over the next 18 months, including 70,000 UFCW members in Southern California and in stores across the country and in Canada. The website, www.groceryworkersunited.com offers workers and supporters downloads of store flyers, videos, photos and news from bargaining tables across the country.
Last month, grocery workers all along the West Coast wore stickers expressing their need for affordable, quality health care. Now, in-store action is spreading across the entire nation as grocery workers wear this month’s sticker, which reads: “Serving Customers, Serving the Community.”
“The customers have been very supportive of the stickers,” adds UFCW Local 21 member and Safeway employee Vee Maksirisombat of Seattle, Washington. “It lets them know that we support our communities.”
“We’re all working for the same things: better benefits, better wages and job security. If we all work together, with the support of the community, to fight for the things we need, we’ll be stronger when we bargain,” said Leroy Gardner, UFCW Local 400 member and an employee at Giant Foods in Bethesda, Maryland.