Thursday: 16.October.2003

California grocery store chains on strike

Here in sunny Southern California, all the major grocery store chains are on strike. This suks cuz you still have to eat. I've never been a member of a union, but am nonetheless sympathetic to their cause. If possible, I'd rather not cross the picket line.

So I went to Albertson's late last night, around 10PM, to pick up a few things, figuring all the picketers would have long gone home. No way. They were still there. But they were cool. I chatted with them for a few minutes.

Inside was a mess. Mass confusion. It took the girl *forever* to check me out. I even told her how much the yellow bell peppers cost, but she said, "I still have to enter the code," which she couldn't seem to find. Frustration.

I asked if she was concerned about getting her @ss kicked by the picketers. She said she was more worried that her dad might find out. He is a teamster rep, and would kill her if he knew she was crossing a picket line. (They call them "scabs" here.)

So today I went up to Trader Joes (the one right across from Crystal Cove): a different store, where they are NOT striking. TJ's isn't a full-blown grocery store, but they have most of the main staples. Anyway, TJ's was *packed*. The kid behind the register said business has quadrupled.

And everyone was buying way more stuff than they normally do. The lady in front of me needed *two* baskets for all her groceries. So naturally, now it takes a lot longer to check out.

Driving home from TJ's, with the Rad mobile packed with $200 worth of groceries (beer & pretzels), I honked at the striking picketers to show my support. Everybody was honking. It was like a damn party at the intersection.





Posted by Rad at October 16, 2003 03:15 AM

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I live in Laguna Beach also. Yay! Anyway, I heard yesterday that Ralph's reached some sort of s settlement and people are no longer striking there, but I have no idea if it's true.
Have you heard anything?

Posted by: Jennifer at November 3, 2003 08:10 AM

There was a guy at the house yesterday who works for ralphs. He said the union was pulling picketers from Ralphs as their way of saying thanks to shoppers for being so supportive, and to concentrate on the other stores. Seems a bit arbitrary. He said, over time, people would begin to cross the picket-lines anyway. I just go to Wild Oats & Trader Joes.

Posted by: Rad at November 3, 2003 08:36 AM

Sirs:
I intend to shop as much as possible at the stores being picketed. You all have a lot of balls striking at the wages you're paid.
-Scott Kruegel

Posted by: Scott Kruegel at November 23, 2003 08:12 AM

I do hope the union is able to achieve there goals - for I am watching this strike closely as a union member with a grocery chain in washington - being our strike month will be may -

Posted by: julie at November 27, 2003 06:17 PM

Enough is enough.

http://www.geocities.com/gettoworkjackass/

Posted by: Jack at December 1, 2003 12:23 PM

thank you for posting the gettoworkjackass site. I for one do NOT agree with any of this. If their cause started out justified, it surely has worn out it's welcome when they harass the customer who really dont want to or dont have time to be in stater bros for 3 + hours to shop. I do not think i should feel bad for people who have great coverage to begin with, then to want more when i can barely afford what i have, which isn't great, isn't bad, it's just there if i get hit by a bus. if i dont like it, i can do without basically. i dont care what they were promised 20 years ago, things change, healthcare has more than TRIPLED in the last 5 or so years, and i don't evenhave the privaledge of having a retirement plan, let alone the audacity to assume that because i can remember a produce code, that they owe me the world. I think it's time they realize and be grateful for the coverage they have.

thank you

Posted by: fed up in glendora at December 1, 2003 02:50 PM

I came across this forum running an MSN search on the grocery strike. Kind of odd having a grocery strike forum on a tech site, but I'm glad I found it! I was talking to my UPS Driver (union man) today and he says in the eyes of a union member, what the grocery people are doing is WRONG. Striking against the employer is one thing, but lashing out at the customer is unacceptable. He said he has no problem crossing the picket lines nor do most of his co-workers.

The www.geocities.com/gettoworkjackass page you posted is awesome. Hits the nail on the head. I only wish the strikers would consider the consumer's point of view and realize the burden they are putting on them, when in most cases the consumers don't have anywhere near the benefits package that these strikers want them to support. Pretty selfish if you ask me.

Posted by: Jesse at December 1, 2003 03:56 PM

You guys ever consider the other side of this strike issue: - which would be JOB SECURITY? You all can piss off for thinking it's all about healthcare contribution. The reality of it is we're the middle class of America slowly dying and dwindling down into the poverty levels, while a bunch of suited-up bastards get to flick their cigarette ashes on our diseased, underpaid and undernourished carcases. Just look at the quality of worker you'd get from Walmart, or KMart, and tell me do you want that kind of worker handling your food? Corporate America could care less - they got their bellies filled already.

Look at what happened when they messed with the longshoremen. The postal workers. If I'd see any one of you folks in front of my store with your kinds of attitudes, I'd hunt down your car and strip it down to its frame before you'd know it.

We're tired. We're angry. There's a riot brewing in the rage.

Posted by: Don at VONS at December 31, 2003 11:45 PM

This strike is ridiculous! The Union is doing nothing but hurting the strikers, they fill their heads with a bunch of lies and are taking some of these lies to the extreme!!
The stores are NOT taking away health benefits; they are asking the employees to help pay a SMALL part of it, $5/week for a single person or $15/week for a family. How many of us working class people are even offered that, I pay triple that for just me! And this nonsense about taking away their pension planÖ if any of them bothered to put down their signs for a few minutes and do some research of their own they would realize that a pension plan cannot be taken away, the company can only stop contributing to it. In which case they become like the rest of us who put into a 401K in order to retire.
Third of all they are asking for more money!!! WHAT? I am a temporary worker for Albertsonís (better known as a SCAB) let me tell you first hand this is not a job that should pay $18/hour! This should be a minimum wage paying job. This should not be the place they plan on retiring and half of them have that goal in mind and that is sad. This is a place that helps out high school and college students on their way up in life. They should plan on doing more instead of scanning bananas for the rest of their lives.
The only reason they blame this on Corporate America is because they realize they know nothing, and would be of no use to any real job.
Iím sorry to all the banana scanners who woke up and realized that life isnít fare, but you know what learn to deal with it!

Posted by: at January 13, 2004 11:20 AM

How much do you really think a cashier (read person who scans) should make? I am all for maintaining the rights of workers but this job is neither technical, nor stressful, nor hazardous. It is one of the last "high" paying jobs you can get without college or special skill. These people have had it great for so many years. Why do people think that they should get paid good money just because they are alive? These people should be grateful that they are getting paid $17 to $25 an hour to scan groceries. Lets get real -they could be so easily replaced for less.

That being said - the strike is not about money it is about benefits - they are being asked to share the increase of the cost of healthcare coverage. The 50% we are talking about is only for retired workers who choose not to go to a participating doctor. The retiree will have to pay 50% in that case and there is a $5000 cap. Isnít it nice that they have such extensive health benefits after they are retired? They have been asked to pay more per week for their health coverage (from $5 to $15 per week). Most of these employees work part time. Isnít it great that they have health coverage in light of their part-time status? My company does not offer this. Most do not.

I think they should that they should be thankful of what a great deal they have had and move on before they lose any more money on strike. I feel sorry for them.

Profits are down and/or the business is actually losing money. They've already raised prices as high as they can to remain a viable choice for the consumers. Clearly, overhead must be cut - there's no other alternative. They realize that they've needed their too high of prices for too long because they've been paying their employees too damned much for too damned long. They realize that the love and respect for their employees which had driven them to try to pay their employees the highest pay in the local market was the very same motive which is going to drive them out of business - and all of their employees will not merely get lower pay as a result, but will instead lose their jobs when the doors to the business must close. Sorry, overpaid employees, it's time to be paid what you legitimately deserve.

Now the employees, demonstrating the typical rocket-science mentality that is required of grocery baggers, think to themselves, "Hey! They can't afford to pay us as much as we want and have been getting, so let's strike so that people will stop shopping at our store, thus further eliminating the amount of money that our store has to pay us, so that they'll have more money to pay us!"

Another striker said to me last night, yet another smart person here, "just by the items that you really need". Ahh, ok, I always go to the store and by stuff that I don't need.

Itís too bad that so many people think that the world owes them a living.

Posted by: Scott40 at January 13, 2004 12:49 PM

Liked the www.geocities.com/gettoworkjackass site. Another good one is www.unionthugs.com.

For the consumer still feeling sympathetic for the strikers, check out THEIR site. http://slaveway.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=frm&s=915600035&f=714608335 (slaveway.org)Read a couple of THEIR posts and see if you still feel the same.

If you're still not clear after checking out the
"Von's" section, try the "stupid customer questions" message board. Yeah, they just love the consumer. Breaks my heart that they're out of work. *cough*

Posted by: chuck at January 15, 2004 08:33 AM

I have no sympathy for these crying babies. I have been crossing the picket line since day 1 and plan on doing so until this is over. If these ungrateful banana scanners get their jobs back when this is over, I along with many others plan on boycotting these stores. I really hope that Southern California will join us in this. I mean why should we continue to pay for their health care, pension, and salary if they arenít going to be grateful for how easy they have it.

Posted by: Tawney at January 19, 2004 12:11 PM

one reason not to shop at Ralph's. someone stole my credit card last night and went to Ralph's to make a $266.88 purchase, the cashier did not ask for ID and was therefore able to steal from me. the mgr. was worthless and stated his employees are temporary and don't always do what they are supposed to do. just another reason not to purchase from striking stores who use scabs. i hope no one else is a victim of this kind of theft because of idiot employees.

Posted by: brenda at January 19, 2004 01:55 PM

Last Christmas my boss gave me her credit card to shop with and not one store asked me for my ID. I did not only shop and grocery stores but places such as Robinsons May. If your going to stop shopping at a store because they didnt check the ID of a shopper then you might as well stop shopping all together, no body checks ID's anymore.

Posted by: Tawney at January 19, 2004 02:34 PM

The AFL-CIO is taking over negotiations. They are sending two guys who have "negotiated" successful resolutions before. The store management is no doubt shaking in their boots. It will be "Sign here, or Guido will take this ball-peen hammer to your toes."

Posted by: afl-cio at January 20, 2004 06:02 PM

Really? Do you know when this is gonna happen?

Posted by: Tawney at January 21, 2004 03:10 PM

I cannot believe the mentality of these people that are upset that others are better off than they are. These employees are not asking for a raise, they are merely asking to keep the benefits and wages that they were offered when they applied for the job. How many of you work hard at your job hoping that each time you receive an evaluation for a pay raise that you will make less money, and receive fewer perks? How long would you stay at a job like that? Instead of being angry at people who make more money than you, and do not have to pay much for their benefits, you should be asking "why doesn't my employer do that?".

A few people have claimed that these employees are overpaid, and that there are few skills involved in doing the job. Like with any job, there is always someone skating along, but for the most part these people are trained to do other things besides scan your products and take your money. Almost all of the employees at the top end of the pay scale have other duties. These include: managing safety programs, various issues regarding governmental regulations, compliance and quality assurances, training and continuing education, human resoursces etc... None of these extra duties comes with any extra pay. They are considered part of the job. I am sure those few people posting that are replacement workers are not being required to do these tasks. In fact, from what I have seen in the stores, these tasks are being foregone. For the most part, these people deserve what they are being paid. These companies are claiming it is a necessity of cost control to cut wages, but all of these stores have lower labor cost versions. Vons has Pavillions, Albertsons has Supersaver, and Ralphs has Food4Less. If it were just about cost you would see more of these lower cost stores opening, and more of the higher cost stores closing. However, the fact is that the service in these stores is substandard, and ammenties that require more labor just don't exist in those formats. People shop at the higher cost stores because they offer the extras, and those extras cost money.

I also see a lot of angry people claiming they have to pay double and triple what the grocery workers are being asked to pay. I don't think that many of you realize that the intent of the companies is to eventually shift the entire cost of healthcare to employees. This is not just occuring in the grocers' Southern California market, but across the entire country. This will result in several people dropping out of their healthcare coverage. There are 70,000 employees, not including their family members enrolled in these healthcare programs. Do you have any idea what your payments will be once large numbers of people drop their health care coverage. If you don't you should read some of the worried articles in the health insurance providers trade magazines. The loss of those members will decrease the providers ability to negotiate lower costs and the increases in costs will be passed on to you. If you think your contributions are high now they will be astronmical in the next couple of years. You should really be hoping for a settlement in favor of these workers.

Posted by: brian at January 22, 2004 10:53 AM

Thank you Brian for letting people know that working in a grocery store is not just scanning grocery's out! Any associate that is employed with the grocery business, is required to pass a food safety class. Not anyone can cut meat! I started out as a cashier, and since have been promoted to managment, my present positon I have is Human Resource Coordinator. Not bad for someone that started out ring bananas! I am employed with a large grocery company. We have been sending out over 100 managment associates for three week waves! This means that this strike not only affects California, it spreads to Michigan, Colorado, Ohio, Kentucky and several other states. This strike has taken myself as well as other managers away from their families, holidays,and everyday family activities. Do the stricker's not understand that they will never make up what they have lost in the last three month's? I have been through one strike, just speaking from experience, the first contract was the best one. Then of course, after this strike is done and over, their union dues will go up! No one will come out the winner when this is all done and over with! As a member of mangment I pay for my own insurance, should I be so lucky to pay what they are asking Ralph's employees to pay. The grocery business might be one of the last companies that are asking for some help paying for their insurance. Other companies are just doing it! Good Luck!

Just remeber that the Kroger Company/Ralph's has very deep pockets! Try settling this before they end up closing the stores permantly! Then what are you going to do? Trust me they have done it in other states! They are not afraid to do it in California!

Posted by: terri at January 30, 2004 08:31 PM

Nicely said Brian.
You never know the situation another is in until you have walked in their shoes.
This does effect everyone, whether they realize it or not.
This has gone on for so long that it is a lose/lose situation for all parties involved. It's unfortunate that we have ALL suffered, the companies, employees, and consumers.
By the way, bannana's DON'T SCAN.

Posted by: Julie at February 23, 2004 02:35 PM

remember!this is not only about 5 and 15 ( as very ignorant customers stated as they walk by spitting on the picketers), it is about saving the middle class-----it is a shame that health care has risen so high in the recent years---no one likes paying these high prices for insurance to take care of our families!!!!!if they can do this to us what makes anyone else safe from the endless raising of prices for health care!!!!!as for this being an " point-less , no stress, easy job" let me tell you!!!!!!from the moment we step into stores we are catering and bending over back-wards to meet our customers needs!!! from finding that item you need at your special party to making sure you are quickly and efficently and rightly checked out -we are there.We are even dealing with that un-ruly customer that really makes you want to pull your hair out!come-on !those of you that work know how crazy they make us!The feelings of welcoming you into our stores and helping you out should not be over-looked!This is also a part of our jobs ----not just scanning bannanas!please be patient with us , we want to go back to work as much as you guys want the stores back to normal!

Posted by: m shaw at February 28, 2004 10:15 PM