Tuesday, March 02, 2004

California Grocery Workers

I have been following the California grocery workers strike for months and began writing articles several times, but never got anything finished to blog here.

The crux of the strike was the workers standing up to chain store management and refusing to take pay cuts to keep their jobs. The scenario is happening everywhere: employers say they have to make cuts, so you will receive fewer benefits, less pay, and little or no retirement. At the same time, the boards of directors and officers of the corporation are given huge bonuses, vulgar salaries, free stock options, and golden parachutes that allow them to retire in maximum comfort at an early age.

In these days of government give-backs to corporate America, it is deemed unpatriotic to question this sort of plan and most of us are so grateful to have a job that we are happy to pay more for our health benefits and worry about retirement later.

I am proud that the California grocery workers stood up and fought to save their health care benefits and the chains' demands to freeze their pension funds.

For five months, over 59,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers stood on picket lines and lived on strike wages until the stores came to the table with a fair offer. This weekend, the union voted in support of a new three-year contract with Safeway, Kroger, Ralphs and Albertsons. If negotiations continue to go smoothly, they could be back to work this week!

The lack of affordable health care for US citizens, and the threats by Alan Greenspan to eliminate Social Security have put all of us in a bad situation. Sadly, nobody wants to talk about these things. The media wants you to talk about Janet Jackson's breast and gay marriage while the owners of the media outlets work with the fundamentalists in the White House to eliminate all worker benefits, pension funds, and job security.

The heroism of the California grocery workers should be celebrated, not ignored! By fighting Safeway, Kroger, and Albertsons, they have proven that we can defend our jobs and our families and future. Maybe we could even demand that our elected officials pass some laws that protect our jobs, pensions and health care! The media is going to do little to promote this victory because they do not want their own workers to get any ideas about demanding fairness. So, you must tell others about this, and promote the idea that we can stand-up and take our country back from the avaricious fundamentalists trying to destroy our great nation.

I know that many say boycotts don't work, and most of us can't be bothered honoring a strike, but please spread the word that the strike by the California grocery workers worked because of boycotts and picket-line honor. Safeway reported losses for the last quarter of 2003 in the area of half a billion dollars. Why did they lose so much? Because people refused to shop there during the strike!

These losses forced Safeway to the bargaining table and forced them to treat the workers fairly.

Strikes work! Boycotts work! Letters of protest work! These actions have worked in America for well-over a hundred years and they still work! If you are angry or fed-up, take action!



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United Food and Commercial Workers