Friday, August 19, 2011

Grocery employees and supporters rally on eve of strike vote

About 25 people marched in front of the Vons grocery store on the corner of Mills Avenue and Baseline Road Thursday evening, rallying support for employees in lieu of a potential grocery strike in the coming weeks.

Coordinated by and Claremont’s local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), union supporters gathered peacefully outside the grocery store, calling for a compromise on unsettled contracts involving Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons employees.

“Rallying is often associated with negativity, and hate, but we are here to bring positive energy and support for people that are just trying to achieve their American dream,” said Nick Parra, a coordinator with

Thursday’s rally came in response to months of negotiations between the union and nearly 62,000 Southern California grocery store employees. After existing contracts expired last March, the 2 groups have struggled to come to a compromise. A major area of dispute involves proposed spikes in employees’ health care plans.

“These corporations already make big buck. They need to help their employees make money too. They can’t live and support a family on those wages,” said Julia King, a former union employee and member of “There are too many corporations sucking the life out if our democracy.”

Supporters lined the sidewalk outside of Vons, and marched silently across the grocery store aisles, bearing signs scribbled with “Stop the war on workers” and “union workers rock.” Carlos Soto, came out from Glendora to hold up a sign and stand behind his fellow grocery store workers.

“I know the hardships [of being on strike],” Mr. Soto said, a former grocery store employee himself for more than 27 years. “These people work hard to support their families. It’s important to try and save these jobs.”

Grocery store workers are expected to vote over the weekend on whether or not to go ahead with a strike. The last time the 2 groups were unable to reach an agreement, in 2003-2004, a 141-day strike ensued at grocery chains throughout Southern California. Regardless of the outcome, supporters plan to stand behind their local grocery store clerks.

“It’s a very stressful time for our grocery store workers,” said Connie Leyva, president of UFCW Local 1478. “Our community is coming together to stand behind them.”

photo courtesy of Steven Felschundneff, photo editor/staff photographer

1 comment:

  1. To avoid strikes and avoid paying any benefits regardless of the costs the FAT CAT CEO's have shipped jobs overseas by even using stimulus money.That is partly why there is such high unemployment in the first place. And you can bet they would have shippedeven Claremont's Von's to some other country if they could and starve us in the process. The last lockout and fiinal two-tier agreement backfired. Besides having a high turnover rate among lower tier workers it certainly was not enough if these new hires had to resort to theft quite possibly to feed their children. So between not having a job at all and starving, to having a low tier job and still starving how are poor people not affected when these two groups as is are quite possibly both going hungry. Rather than having to resort to food stamps (EBT) my wish is that all would......get decent and fair wages and benefits and live contented thriving lives. The problem now is that the workers are being asked to give more for less while all other prices are going up. Same work but less pay. Less pay means less food for their kids now right? And why if the company is making great profits, why not at least keep an even level of wages and benefits if the worker helped the company earn that level of profits in the first place? An increase in either wages or benefits would help keep pace with other rising costs but that is not what is being asked for. Attempts at least, to hold on to the current status quo by both parties, under the current economic conditions, only sounds fair in my view. And if workers are "linning" their pockets with a fair and decent wage and benefits so they can put food on the table and a roof over their families head then so be it. They work hard for it and they deserve it. Remember the companies lost big time because workers that customers know and see day-to-day were supported by those customers in large numbers. So the more support we customers provide then the sooner an agreement can be reached and the sooner the retail worker can get back to doing what they do best and that is serving us the loyal customer. True some shoppers may decide to go in out of neccessity if a strike does take place, but God forbid any violence because I would not ever endorse any such action by any individual or party. Should a strike occure I would suggest stocking up and that you Adopt-A-Store at

    Michael Keenan