Grocery Workers Mobilize for Shoppers Bargaining
Activism, Unity to Mark Contract Campaign Launch SaveOurShoppers.org Website
LANDOVER, Md., June 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Declaring that workers will not pay the price for corporate mismanagement, members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 working at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy are forming an Activist Contract Team (ACT!), launching a new website (http://SaveOurShoppers.org), and mobilizing for collective bargaining.
Coming off a challenging but successful round of bargaining with Giant and Safeway marked by unprecedented worker activism, UFCW Local 400 members from all employers are rallying around Shoppers workers in demanding justice and fairness in a new contract to replace the one that expires on July 7, 2012.
Shoppers is a banner of the troubled Supervalu chain, which has struggled for the past three years under the leadership of CEO Craig Herkert, who was named "the worst chief executive in the business" by Food World magazine last year.
"We will not let Shoppers/Supervalu dump its financial problems on our members' backs," said UFCW Local 400 President Tom McNutt. "Workers are Shoppers' greatest asset and the solution to the company's problems, which lie exclusively in the executive suites. We are going to emphatically make the case that investing in Shoppers' workers in the best and only way for the company to start growing and profiting again."
"We are standing together, standing strong and standing tough," said Kevin Freeman, a Shoppers worker who is one of 20 Local 400 members serving on the Bargaining Advisory Committee and participating in negotiations. "We are committed to doing whatever it takes to get a contract that recognizes the enormous value we bring to Shoppers."
"We're sending out the SOS to save our Shoppers," said Marylee Butts, who also serves on the Advisory Committee. "We're ready to turn things around when we're empowered with a strong new collective bargaining agreement."
"We don't want to go backward," said Local 400 shop steward and Advisory Committee member Jose Canjura, who works at Shoppers #16 in Burke, Va. "We work hard and expect fair pay and benefits in return."
Local 400 activists involved in the recently-concluded Giant and Safeway bargaining are assisting Shoppers workers in their campaign to win a fair contract, providing advice and support gained in their long and difficult negotiations.
"Our Shoppers' members should stick together, work together and never waver," said Daryl Graham who works at Safeway #2713 in Bowie, Md. "That's how you show the companies we're strong and we cannot be defeated. The more members who get involved, the more voices we have, the better."
"Solidarity is the main thing," said Natalie Bolling, a Local 400 shop steward who works at Safeway #1276 in Washington, DC. "The more Shoppers members stay together and talk to their customers, the more support we'll have and the stronger we'll be."
"Management's going to try every trick in the book," said Lester Price, a Local 400 member and shop steward working at Giant. "But when they're faced with workers whose Solidarity cannot be broken and who are supported by customers and the community, that's when they'll realize their only option is to come to the table in earnest with a fair deal."
One significant issue likely to arise in bargaining is Supervalu's operation of a non-union banner, Save-A-Lot, which has stores in many of the same markets and communities as Supervalu union banners. "Cannibalizing yourself has never ranked as a sound business strategy," McNutt said, "and Save-A-Lots are losing money. Rather than eat itself alive, Supervalu needs to invest in its union workers and banners so it can start eating the competition."
UFCW Local 400 represents 40,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
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