Helping California grocery workers avert a strike; supporting them if they do
UFCW members collect petitions to support workers outside a grocery store in Southern California. | FoodFightUS.com

LOS ANGELES—In a special to People’s World on July 3, about the possible grocery workers’ strike looming in California, it seems like the perfect time as I write today, July 4th, to reflect on one of the most important rights that we should value as workers and which is truly apple pie.

A strike is a difficult event. It can bring needed and important improvements to our working conditions and pay, but it is highly upsetting to personal and daily community life when it happens. That is why a strike is the last thing that workers want to do. Owners and bosses force workers to go on strike by refusing to share any of the profit that the company calls their own but has been made thanks to the workers’ labor. Workers create the profits, and the company refuses to share them.

Currently, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have been forced by Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons to authorize a strike. By refusing to negotiate and share profits made by the workers, these three businesses (actually two, since Albertsons owns Vons) have forced some 46,000 working people in our community to authorize a strike and work without the protection of a new contract. The owners and bosses have so far refused terms on a new contract. The grocery workers have been working without a contract since March 3, 2019, when the old one expired. Pavilions is also owned by Albertsons.

Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons, because of their greed, are trying to disrupt our communities and force stores from central California down to the Mexican border to go on strike. This could put 60,000 of our family members, neighbors, and fellow workers on the streets without any income. At a time when the cost of living is so high, when jobs are being cut through automation and profits are so large, such greed is truly unjust and uncalled for.

Unity!

At one time or another, we all face the same stressful, convulsive situation where we are trying to negotiate a bigger share for ourselves in the profits we create for these companies, owners, and bosses. We want more money for our work and better working conditions in our jobs. The key to winning these negotiations is unity, and the best way to help the grocery workers is to help create this unity.

There are several creative ways to help workers avert a strike. Let’s think of ways to show your solidarity with the grocery workers. Maybe you can send a letter from your union to the UFCW and a copy to your local Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons. If you are not in a union, how about from your church, your community or senior citizen center, your Democratic or Republican Party club, your car club or bowling group, or your small business which will lose customers if the grocery workers do not get paid? How about going to the grocery store and telling the cashiers you will support them and not buy anything there if they are on strike? Or you can ask to speak with a manager and say that you will not shop there if the workers are forced to go on strike because the store refuses to give workers what they are asking for in the negotiations.

There are many other creative ways to help each other as workers. I encourage you to comment below about how you can help prevent a strike by creating unity and support in our communities for the UFCW before they have to go out. If the strike happens, then help with solidarity on the picket line and boycott the Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons store in your community. Don’t allow our communities and lives to be disrupted by greed.


CONTRIBUTOR

Ismael Parra
Ismael Parra

Ismael Parra is a writer and activist living in Los Angeles.

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