Hundreds March in Support of Justice for Grocery Workers Results in Victory
UPDATE: On August 10, 2016, grocery workers across Central and Southern California approved a contract with the companies which own Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons Stores.
The contract contains raises of nearly a dollar an hour over the three year span of the deal, automatic increases to compensate for new minimum wage laws, retirement security, and improved notice of scheduling.
“What do we want? A contract!,” the crowd of hundreds chanted.
“And when do we want it?” Now!,” echoed off the buildings in LA’s Koreatown area.
On August 2, 2016, the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) joined with other community, labor and religious groups to participate in a march and rally in support of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons grocery workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 in their efforts to win a just contract for fair wages, benefits and working conditions.
Participants met at Lafayette Park on 6th St and marched to the Ralphs and Vons, the corporations’ most profitable Southland stores, on the corner of 3rd and Vermont.
CES staff members were part of delegations that meet with the two store managers. CES Executive Director Larry Gross told the Ralphs manager, “I’m a loyal Ralphs customer, but my first loyalties are with your dedicated employees. We are in the most unaffordable city when it comes to housing with people, like grocery workers, paying more than 50% of their income to rent. Thus, it is imperative that grocery workers receive a just wage that enables them the ability to secure and maintain a roof over their families heads.”
Some 50,000 union grocery workers voted recently to authorize a strike against the supermarket companies. If a workable agreement isn’t reached by the August 8 deadline, a strike could occur as early as the following day.
What we want is a contract that helps makes ends meet,” said Rigo Valdez, Director of Organizing for UCFW Local 770, which represents workers from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.
Valdez said the lowest-paid employee makes $10.20 an hour, and some part-time employees are only guaranteed 24 hours a week. “That is certainly not enough to live off of,” he said.
Negotiations with management are currently underway.
At the same time Ralphs made over $3.6 billion in profits last year. That equals $69 million every week.
Employees are looking for concessions in relation to compensation, hours, and scheduling, Valdez said. Currently, workers received their schedule for the following week on Friday, which is “not enough time to get advanced notice” to get a second job or to arrange childcare, Valdez said.