PHOTOS: Update From Grocery Workers Strike Meeting


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Members of the UFCW21 Grocery Worker’s Union met tonight (Monday, Nov. 8th) at the Doubletree Hotel in SeaTac and photographer David Sharpe captured several photographs before the meeting officially got underway.

The general tone of the union members that were willing to speak off-the-record is that they are very unhappy with the proposal that was put in front of them. Issues mentioned included pay cuts, substitution of lump sum payments instead of raises, drastic reduction of holiday pay and pension changes.

There were also signs of anger towards the union itself over why members hadn’t seen either the company proposal or the union counter-proposal prior to this point in the negotiations.

As we reported on Thursday, Nov. 4th, numerous local grocery store workers from three different unions — UFCW 21, UFCW 81, and Teamsters 38 — are voting this week on whether or not to authorize a strike, as recommended by the union bargaining team.

Results of the vote are expected by the end of the week.

Local union members work at Safeway, QFC, Albertsons, and Fred Meyer, and a strike could affect holiday shopping in the Burien area.

Some 25,000 grocery store workers have been in negotiations since March 2010.

As news develops on this story we’ll post updates, so check back often.

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Comments

14 Responses to “PHOTOS: Update From Grocery Workers Strike Meeting”
  1. Smapgrafle says:

    I will be more than happy to shop at these stores while the sheep go on strike.

    Everyone is taking a “pay cut” now. Wait until next year when your taxes go up.

    Will you bite the hand that feeds you then, and blame your employer? If you had any sense, you should be blaming your union for supporting the representatives that chose politics over the the will of the people. They are taking your dues to support a party that will preside death of the middle class.

    So, while you’re busy collecting your union strike pay while you gripe about the fact that you have to take a cut in your salary and benefits (like everyone else in the working world right now), the rest of us will continue to work our jobs because we need to pay our bills. If you overextended yourself, that’s your own problem. I have no pity for those that choose to take these jobs and whine when the unions give you the shaft.

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    • Heather says:

      As an adjunct to what i commented – we do not WANT to be a part of the Union. These jobs require it. Most of us took the job because we had nowhere else to go. So bite me.

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    • Eaton B. Verz says:

      Wow, what a bitter and totally clueless person! Relax! Put on a costume and go to a Tea Party meeting. SHEEEESH…………

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    • Robert says:

      When was the last time your boss tried to take away your retirement, charge you more for health care, offer to give you a $.25 raise that they will hold all year and gain interest on, Make you work 10000 (about 10-15 years for the average grocery clerk) hours to get to the top pay scale for your department, make you work holidays (and they want to remove holiday pay which they only pay at 1 +1/3 the hourly rate), remove sick pay which they don’t really get anyway and some idiot thinks they are whining.
      This is exactly why the old methods need to be brought back to ensure the lines aren’t crossed.

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      • David says:

        Agreed. I’d like to split some of these neanderthals skulls. “I no have, you should no have to!”

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    • rainycity says:

      Meathead,
      I really hope that the grocery workers have as much solidarity as we hope they have.
      That`s really the only way they can start to get back the benefits and pay that has been taken from them in recent and not so recent years. Unfortunately when times are tough, people get scared about declining a contract, even one chock full of take-aways when really sometimes those are the times to make a stand and let management know you mean it. Don`t let your membership dare go into this thing oh well, we`ll get it back next contract when the economy picks,, YOU WON`T, gets ome back now some back next time, Those companies can`t wait to screw you in any way they can.
      Myself, I support you guys 100% and will NOT even drive into the parking lots of any establishment holding picket signs except to drop off some home-made hot chicken soup, sandwiches etc.,
      I will take a percentage of my pay and donate it to your union for the membership to be used for staples at the hall like bread and such.
      Don`t let assholes like smapwhatever, better known as coverofnight deter you, he even himself mentions everyone is taking a pay-cut right now. When he talks about biting the hand that feeds you, well what about the hand that takes from you, time and time again,,
      Hmmm,
      That idiots a dumbass and would be a scab in any event. He obviously has issues of jealousy and discontent, and is nothing more than a troll, plain and simple.
      Be grateful you don`t have that asshole in your union, your union is better off because *^&$heads like him can`t get a union job, and would rather cry sour grapes and hate them like a little kid who doesn`t get his way, takes his ball and goes home.
      There is some justice in this world. I could go on but work waits.

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  2. Heather says:

    We’re already being paid shit and now they want to cut back even more. There are logical shifts that need to be made, but most of these people have already earned their pension and now are going to lose it or have to work an extra 10-20 years to make up what was lost in the cuts? Please tell me how that’s right.

    Put yourself in this situation and tell me you would let them stick it up your ***. These aren’t corporate schmucks making even hundreds of thousands a year. It’s working class trying to make ends meet. We’re lucky to get what vacation we do. We’re lucky to get the premiums and benefits we do. But all it’s making up for is the fact that we’re still mostly on minimum wage scrambling for hours and many working a second job. We kill ourselves day in and day out on the floors trying to keep up with skeleton crews. I’ve been an employee working as close to full time as they’ll put me for nearly three years and I JUST got my $9.20 pay raise. Chances are I’m going to have to stay at that rate for the next year at least. And I’m one of the lucky ones.

    A large percentage of the people in our stores are students trying to keep up with tuition and bills while going to school and this is the only job that will work with their hours AND give them reasonable health benefits. OH NO! We’re such terrible people to ask that we be charged reasonably for reasonable benefits. So who else makes up our crews? The people with families. Just starting or well on their way, they work hard so they can spend what time they have with them and get their insurance to boot. And then there are the lifers. The people that you’ve seen in the store since you were four. The people working as journeyman pay in a job you’d have to be crazy to stay in so long. These people started and stayed, they worked their ways through the tough wages in the beginning and the contract negotiations of past and stuck it out. They’ve earned every bit of their retirement – and in this economy even THAT is spreading thin.

    Fact is we don’t leave the job because we CAN’T leave the job. We need it for everything it gives us and without that where can we go? The grocery stores are not hit THAT hard. We’ve had higher sales than the same month of the last two years in the last few months. We schedule according to hours and the majority of the hours go to the people working minimum wage or just over. Where do you work? Where do you shop?

    Think of this: I work two jobs and go to school. That’s an average of 55 hours a week working. Neither job pays over 9.25 an hour. On top of that I have to find time for full time school and homework. I commute by bus which I can barely afford after rent, utilities, food and sundries. My “spending money” is spent when my shoes get holes in them or when I need another book for class. I still don’t know how I’m going to pay for the remainder of next semester’s tuition and I’m questioning how I’ll cover rent if we strike. I figure I’ll just unplug everything electric and not shower to save on utilities.

    Now instead of commuting to the store I chose to work at for its location I’ll have to commute to a store at least a 45 minutes away to picket at night in the middle of winter for even less than I was being paid before, and somehow figure out how I’m going to come up with the remaining money required for my bills. That’s not even factoring the resulting shortage that will affect me for the next two years.

    Evaluate how you work and how you’re paid. Then come into our jobs and say we’re ungrateful. The employers and the Union are both in the wrong when it comes to the negotiations. Neither has tried very hard up to this point and the employees, who it’s actually going to effect, haven’t been in the loop from the start. Now the Union’s putting their twist on it like they do everything and STILL not answering the questions the employees have even though we’ve said we’d back them. They just want us angry. Well, they got it. We’re angry. At them AND the employers. Now because we’ve trusted them with the power to sway the contract negotiators they’ve decided to pull a strike right before the holidays? You think we like this? You think this is what we want? We want everyone to get off their high horses and negotiate the shit out of the contract so we can get it over with without having to lose an arm and a leg! We’re not asking for improvements to the shit, just stop taking what we’ve already earned! It’s a given that some things will cost more and changes will need to be made. But we should be a part of the changes. Not just subject to them.

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    • Shari says:

      Heather, I want to thank you for taking the time to post your messages. It’s an inherently volatile, emotional issue that has polarized people for generations (including at any dinner table where some of my relatives and I are sitting at the same time). I found your post really informative and thought provoking and I appreciate your ability to articulate the complexity and the human-ness of it in such a balanced way despite being caught in the middle of it all personally. If there’s any justice left in the world, you’ll end up doing something that exploits your considerable skills and passions in the best possible way. I’m rooting for you and for both sides to figure out how to do the right thing to make this all work out.

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  3. Rainycity says:

    Heather,
    Don`t feed the troll, a.k.a. smapgraph, a.k.a. c.o.n. but I will say this, if you think you don`t have much now, dump the union and then see what you`ll have,, a lot less.
    But the bottom line is, each person has to do what is right for them and their families as far as the contract goes, sometimes that means a sacrifice.
    The union ultimately speaks for you but its up to the membership to let them know what it is you want by attending meetings, asking for a rep to come in and talk to you etc.
    And if need be, you can plug into one of my outdoor sockets and shower at my place.

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    • Robert says:

      When employers take away from employees it sends a clear message that the efforts of the employees are not good enough. We gave up the farm one year when I was in the union and then they built all new offices for the management. This was after the owners and management decried lost revenue and barely being able to make ends meet.
      Negotiations are a sales job and the Unions are failing. It doesn’t take much to understand that protection of fair wages, annual wage increases, and retirement earnings are what the majority of union members want. Recently I looked at what the grocery stores are offering. More out of pocket medical (industry wide this is the norm). Reduction (or removal) of holiday pay to $1 an hour over the current hourly rate standard is holiday pay of 1.5x, No holiday pay unless you are full time the standard is usually the average hours worked per day. Really does corporate not understand that people want to be with their families on Christmas, or the Fourth of July, or New Years, or whatever other holidays they have off with their families.
      This should be in the media. These closed door sessions in my opinion are dishonest at best. Why is it that the people paying representatives salaries have to go out to meetings. Why aren’t the reps on site at a couple locations throughout the year to gather data? Do the reps not have phones to call members for random stats. Sure had the funding to endorse candidates via the phone.

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  4. meathead says:

    I believe that all companys that can give a raise should give a raise, and that as union employees we need to assure that. That is the way to improve the econimy and take back the middle class. Why would we accept any less? We work holidays, weekends, dont know our schedual untill two days before we have to work it. We are the front line for theese companys.
    We used to get good pay and benefits in exchange for good work and being nice to customers. now we have secret shopper programs and the threat of termination to have us be nice By giving us a cost of living raise it will only benefit them, we will spend more in there stores!!! hello!
    I believe our international union should be doing more to support our fight for living wages and the protection of our medical and pension. We pay out big bucks to them and I dont think they have given us much support. Union members need to start holding there union leaders accountable just like our political leaders!
    The sooner the middle class understands we are the econimy we are the ones paying the pay checks of all the ceo’s and union leaders, we choose who is in theese positions and weather or not they stay there. Lets get paid what we deserve and keep our pensoin healthy along with our health care!.

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  5. rupert says:

    i think for the people that could care less about these issues should be able to chose to work and not get in line. i didnt have a choice to be union. personally, i feel the union is a business. they make money of you. it worked well back in the day for the miners. but i could care less. people should just work hard and not complain. you get rewarded with how hard you work. dont expect to get raises if your out having a longer smoking break. i pay 50 dollars a month to the union, now tell me who seems to be taking money from you? the union or the company?

    in th morning

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  6. rainycity says:

    Rupert,
    As far as individuals go, the union doesn`t do a lot to help those who work hard etc, but as a collective is where the difference is.
    Maybe you should get more actively involved in your union like try attending a meeting or two and see what goes on, see what they do for the community.
    Mind if I ask you what your benefits and wages etc are in regards to the field that you are in as opposed to those that aren`t? But I suppose if what you say holds true for yourself you don`t know. Anybody that could care less about these issues probably doesn`t care about much else in their lives like taking care of their families, putting a couple of bucks away each month for a rainy day, maybe planning out a retirement WITHOUT having work somewhere in your mid 60`s etc, are not much more than walking dead with little or no concept about life and the quality of it.
    And that my friend is sad.
    As for the grocery workers, that at one time was a respectable career for people, what is it now after the conglomerate raped them for so many years?
    Most of them are lucky to get 26 hrs a month. peace out.

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    • rupert says:

      i am aware of their so called crisis, but i also set aside for retirement. i just feel the union doesnt work for me…they work for themselves. i could use the extra 50 dollars a month that they take out. thats like a little raise if you think about it. even if i dont get sunday pay or holiday pay so be it! i have the mentality that you for your work, not pay you for not working. if they cut hours, well thats just cause they are trying to stay afloat. they have families too, they are doing their job. thats why go get an education and be more in demand. dont just get a G.E.D and expect to be worth more than others who work hard to get where they are. if the company chooses someone better to fill your hours, than to damn bad!

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