Grocery Workers Join Picket Lines In Front Of 3 Ralphs Stores

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Picketers are outside three Ralphs supermarkets Wednesday, in what could be a preview of another grocery workers strike.

Grocery workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers 770 have been without a contract since March 6. A proposal for pension increases has been resolved, but workers are far from agreeing to management proposals to cut workers’ pay by 50 percent or more to maintain health care access.

“We can’t have 50 percent of our take-home pay taken away to pay for the premiums, and the deductibles and the co-pays,” says April Stein, who has worked as a clerk for 22 years. She was part of the picket line outside a Ralphs supermarket on Burbank and Van Nuys boulevards, KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports.

Wednesday afternoon, the three grocers released details on a new health care proposal. The new proposal has the three grocery stores increasing their contributions to the health care fund. The grocery stores still want employees to pay more for health care, but at amounts like $9 a week for single coverage and $23 a week for family coverage.

Grocery workers will vote next week on either a strike authorization or contract ratification.

“It’s all about being able to preserve middle-class jobs for people who work very hard in the stores,” Local 770 President Rick Icaza told KNX 1070.

If the Local 770’s 62,000 grocery workers walk out, it will affect an estimated 300 Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons stores.

In 2003, an estimated 70,000 grocery workers went on strike, affecting 900 stores throughout Southern California. The four-month strike sent about 75 percent of shoppers to competitors and cost the supermarkets an estimated $2 billion, according to the UFCW.

  • Phiilip

    We are seeing the destruction of what once was our middle class, before our very eyes. WALMART is already killing the grocery industry as we know it. The labors Unions made this country great, and the Unions will kill it too. I remember when a grocery store position was a much coveted and well paid job. Not so today….

    • dan

      And NOBODY makes the buggy whip any more.

    • Randy

      Strike all you guys want… I’m heading to Fresh & Easy..

      • David Martinez

        food for less is owned by the same company that owns ralphs,fresh n easy is the best,hope they picket food for less also

    • Ron

      Phiilip, the Unions already killed our great country, long before Walmart became so dominant. Thank G@D for our VERY LIMITED freedom of choice in the grocery industry, with a few non-union grocers !!!! And even those few have to continually fight, to prevent the unions from taking away, our limited freedom of non-union choices.

    • nick

      Walmart has not destroyed Publix Supermarkets in the South and FL they thrive right next door. Its the service as what the store offers. What is destroying the middle class are Democrats and Unions. They killed the Auto Industry the Steel Industry and everything else they get control of.

  • alan hart

    Grocery unions and their workers simply don’t get it. They are not needed. With unemployment as high as it is, there is a whole workforce that will come to the rescue of the supermarkets and will gladly work. The Unions have never made any progress as every time they strike, the increase they get doesn’t offset what they lost during the strike. Soon, there won’t be any union workers in markets and shoppers will no longer be bothered by pickets!

    • Mark

      Alan, alas you don’t get it, you are not needed either!!!

    • james

      Before the 2003 strike, the unions had not gone out on strike since the 1970’s!!! If not for the GREED of the CEO’s like Steve Byrd of Safeway, who are making HUGE PROFITS, there would be no need to strike. They simply hate paying union wages and want to make even more profits. If they could hire Chinese nationals at $1 an hour, they would do so in a heartbeat. Instead of seeing the value in their employees and paying them a living wage, they see them as a hindrance to higher profits.

      • Ron

        James, nice ATTEMPT with your UNION SPEAK and ATTEMPT to BRAINWASH the average American voter, into believing that YOUR union is actually concerned about the average American worker. Union phrases like “the average middle class American worker” and “why shouldn’t we average Americans pull for the worker…” are the typical words used to DECEIVE voters and workers into falling for the union trap of “WE”.

        Unlike some of those that you say are being brainwashed by corporations, I am still the educated person, that is more than capable of thinking for myself. UNLIKE many members of the union that are led into slaughter by the union leaders.

        I am NOT anti-American worker, but I am Anti-union. And today, the average middle class American worker has a STRONG DISTASTE for ALL unions. Maybe you aren’t reading the overwhelmingly negative comments about your proposed union STRIKE.

      • james

        No attempts. Just the facts. There is a reason that you and others feel that way. You have been brainwashed starting with Reagan (I voted for him) who had the habit of stating that the government is inept but corporations are the driving force. We know corporations hate the unions. That’s a fact.

        But here’s another fact: When we have a strong middle class of workers making wages that enable them to take care of basic needs like rent, food, and education, THOSE middle class workers spend the money they earn! As opposed to mega wealthy CEO’s and the top echelon of corporations. In other words MORE middle class wage earners SPEND MONEY and DRIVE the ECONOMY! When you take money out of the middle class, the economy stalls. We have “enjoyed” the tax breaks for the uber rich for 10 years now and as a result MORE people have fallen OUT of the middle class into poverty and the wealthiest 400 Americans families have MORE MONEY than the bottom 150 MILLION Americans. That represents nearly half our population! These people only seek to increase profits for THEM and wish wages they were paying were like that of the Chinese.

        I only worked for the markets for 10 years. I’m retired, but I have an interest in the average American and I see how the reduction of employees making LIVING WAGES has hurt not only the individuals but the economy. No “attempts” at the truth, just the truth.

      • james

        Ron: YOU are wrong. I do not live in any dream world. I have witnessed the vilification of unions for three decades now. YOU are trying to blame all of America’s woes on the average middle class American worker instead of the players who are holding all of the cash and making their own rules. The corporations are slowly but surely brainwashing people like YOU into believing that the average American worker who wants to work, get married, have kids and send them to college must now work TWO jobs if they want that kind of life. YOU don’t believe in sharing PROFITS with the people who are actually working day in and day out at the offices/stores of these corporations. YOU are “anti-American worker” and “PRO corporation”. Instead of boosting the value and merits of CEO’s making literally hundreds of millions of dollars annually, why shouldn’t we average Americans pull for the worker who is helping these CEO’s enjoy mega millions in profits by the work they perform on a daily basis at the store level? Why must there be super rich execs and poor workers? Why not have BOTH super rich execs making 10’s of millions of dollars (instead of hundreds of millions) ANNUALLY and workers enjoying LIVING WAGES? WHY IS THAT WRONG????

      • jesse

        Wah! Wah! Wah! So what if a for-profit corporation is making a profit. Where does it say that a corporation should fairly distribute it’s wealth? How about get a real job and pay $500-$1000 a month on healthcare. Tired of people thinking they’re entitled to whatever they want. How about if the employees go on strike then the union goons shouldn’t get a paycheck either?

      • james

        @jesse: What is your major problem with an employee making a LIVING WAGE? What is wrong with a corporation making profits off of the WORK of its OWN EMPLOYEES and then SHARING a PORTION of the profits with its own EMPLOYEES? As a matter of fact, there was a time when corporations wanted good people to work for them knowing that PEOPLE make a business. As a result “PROFIT SHARING” became something that was offered to find good people to join the “team”. You write as if everyone should be grateful to have a job even if it’s only $5/hour. That’s just crazy. It’s thinking like that which has caused the middle class to shrink at an alarming rate. Why should only the CEO’s, Board Members, and shareholders expect increases in earnings every year, but the workers should be given a SMALLER percentage? These grocers are reaping profits galore. THEY are the ones who want to keep cutting the workers wages and benefits. It’s sickening.

      • Ron

        James, open your own company and see if you can make a profit. Then you won’t be whining that EVERY company that you work for, OWES you a LIVING WAGE. You have NO IDEA how hard it is to run your own company, make a profit and deal with regulations and employees.

        Stop regurgitating the union bull@hit.

      • james

        Ron: The supermarkets ARE profitable. Period. And any CORPORATION that is profitable SHOULD pay a LIVING WAGE. If not, then what? Should the person work two jobs to pay rent and try to raise a family while the CEO’s, et al make HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars, with INCREASING percentages year after year? It seems to me that in your perfect world there would be slaves and slave owners. I think you should move to China where you can open your own business hiring children for 50 cents a day working 15 hour days. What a guy!

      • Ron

        James: YOU, like too many union workers, have no understanding of what it is like in the REAL(Not DREAM) world, in today’s economy.You’re the one that thinks he’s living in a DREAM world. And yes there are people that have to work 2 jobs to try to support their families and pay rent. Show me the paper you were given when you were born that said you are owed your DREAM world existence.

        And your statement that corporations should pay a LIVING WAGE, if not, then what? In REAL world, you leave that job, if you are not happy and see if you can find that DREAM job, that you think is out there.

    • Eric Slowik

      yeh well if i cant buy my rockstars ill take your job and get my employee discount and then drink my rockstars

      • Marc

        You won’t have an employee discount as a scab dude!!!

      • Astonished

        Actually, he wont have anything, including job security as a scab!! Funny!

      • Ron

        @Astonished & Marc, you union FLUNKIES won’t have any job security either, if you strike. Thus no employee discounts or healthcare.

      • Michelle

        wow what world are you living in? there not going to give us fair wages nor benefits, but you think we get an employee discount? no discounts, none nada..

      • Michelle

        oh and don’t be surprised if your out on your butt after this whole thing blows over..job security? as a scab, you won’t find it…
        (oh for the nay Sayers out there…they used the same rhetoric the last strike and amazing enough we found our jobs waiting for us)

    • Tomv1

      Unions are a thing of the past. All they succeed in doing is filling the pockets of the executives at the top while your supposed higher pay is gone in union dues. Which also makes the markets charge higher prices and they cannot compete with non-union markets. It is not the people who work for the union that are bad but the people collecting the union dues and brainwashing these hard working people who would be better off without unions.

      • james

        If not for the SAG (a unionized group of performers) I would NOT have received the money due me. The producer lied and failed to pay me union wages, lied about how they used my likeness, and tried to stiff me. I had my union go after them. I won and as a result was able to retain my 10th vested year-affording me benefits that otherwise would have gone uncollected.

        Republicans have done a masterful job demonizing unions over the last 3 decades. More people like you fail to understand that without unions, we wouldn’t have 40 hour work weeks, overtime, or child labor laws. MAN, you people are ignorant!

      • AstrikehurtspeopleNOTunions

        James, You also could have taken legal action just like any citizen has a right to do. You may have heard of it….it’s called “the legal system”. Unions HAD their place. It’s kinda cute how you just couldn’t make it through your whole statement without calling people “ignorant” and bashing a certain political party. Pretty weak and pathetic of you. I appreciate your history lesson too! It’s not everyday that you find out that toothless ” Carnies” are represented the the union dues collector “SAG”

      • Goldenfoxx

        As a union member I resent having money taken out of my paycheck and handed over to the union, which they in turn give to crooked politicians that I don’t support. Unions are nothing more than legalized thuggery. The union has done nothing for me really.

    • Ron

      Julie, I feel sorry for you, BUT there are thousands and thousands of people in other industries that have LOST there jobs, due to our recession. These are hard times and Unions are BLOOD SUCKERS, that really don’t care if any business goes under(jobs lost), as long as they can have members to pay their dues. The UNIONS HAVE and CONTINUE to DESTROY our country. Everything they touch is corrupted and can’t compete in the business world. And the government(Public)unions have made it impossible to get the best, hard working employees and contractors, to do a decent job at a reasonable price.

      If you want to be respected, look for a NON-union job. Do you only buy union made products, from union stores or businesses? I doubt it !! Most people shop for the lowest prices on the products that they prefer. Many people criticize the Walmarts, Fresh and Easys and other non-union stores, but they also shop at some of those same stores.

      Alan, I and many other people understand what is going on, without walking in your union shoes.

    • AmigoSan

      @Julie: Most places have self-check out and its more plesant than dealing with actual cashiers who take their time doing nothing more than flirting with the bag boy who is 25 years their junior. There is a reason why you been there 22 years, and its not because you had a choice to move up the corporate ladder dear.

  • A preview of another grocery workers strike - TeamstersOnline

    […] Chain. If this materializes, it will be uglier than the 2003 strike, which cost grocersbillions! Grocery Workers Join Picket Lines In Front Of 3 Ralphs Stores CBS Los Angeles […]

  • TT

    @ alan – thats the thing i dont understand – unions cant “fight city hall” so to speak – because of the reality ofthe way things are right now in the job market, employees continue to pay high union dues on part time salaries that are for the most part minimum or higher – My daughter used to work for the grocery store industry, by the time she paid union dues and insurance – for a 2 week paycheck, which was part time 40 hours approximately total – she end up taking home about 125.00 in the end – they do have to do something, but without the union – in this case its just costing the employees more than they make…..

  • Steve A

    The problem the grocery store clerks have, is that the stores can take just about anyone off the street, and with an hour or two of training they have sutible replacement. An ounce of common sense and a strong back is all that needed.
    Announce a strike and see how long it takes to have a LONG line of able bodied replacements form outside of ALL the striking stores.

    • TT

      @ steve – very sad but very true – people that are fighting to feed their families and are desparate to pay their bills n save their home will consider this a great opportunity for them to get a temporary job and make some cash…..without paying union dues.

  • caligurl

    you grocery workers got spoiled paying no health insurance at first and really not much you have to pay now. go on strike cuz ill work for them. los of unemployed pple need jobs and gladly cross that picket line

    • Astonished

      Perhaps you are the one who doesn’t quite understand. Grocery workers make minimum wage, if that and only work part time. When you remove Stafe and Federal income tax, deductions for Social Security (which they may NEVER even get to collect on), union dues and other deductions, these workers don’t take home a lot of money. Most work very hard standing on their feet all day and dealing with, and cleaning up after, customers who can be a pain in the backside. I for one don’t think they get paid what they are worth. Taking any more from their checks would be tantimout to slave wages (no pun intended). I don’t blame them for protesting.

      • john smart

        right on ! thank you for not being an ignorant schmuck , like most on this page .

    • Joe

      You honestly have very little of a clue, we do pay for our medical every week. Why instead of make random quips go and research your comments, or is that just too hard for you!

      • caligurl

        I can see you cant read, i said at FIRST you was not paying for medial insurance. I know NOW you pay for you medical insurance weekly but WOW you barely pay much compared to the rest of us. Since you are paying your medical ins weekly how about seeing the optometrist.

  • Dean

    If you strike, I WILL cross your picket lines and shop at the same Ralphs that I shop at every week, which has contributed to paying your salaries and such. If you say a cross word to me, I will tell you to go F yourself, if you touch me I will kick your AZZ, and no matter how long you stay out I will cross your lines.
    Might even decide to work part time for your employer.

    • Joe

      Hatred and foul language is just not the way to portray one’s feelings. While I respect your opinion, think about what you say. There are three foes to the cause, the Union, the Grocers, and opinions like yours. At least support your friends in the Ralph’s you go to, and forget about the Union and Grocers if you want. Anyway God Bless you.

    • Debaser

      Ditto. Well said Dean.

      • gizmo

        ditto too.
        maybe you should switch to a cheaper insurance plan?

  • lala63

    Did I understand correctly that this is all over $9 per week for health insurance for a single worker??? These store employees don’t want to pay $39/month out of their own pocket for health coverage?!?!? JESUS H CHRIST! Blue Cross is $680 per MONTH from me for an individual health insurance policy that has a $4,800 deductable (and I’m mid forties, perfect health). UNBELIEVABLE.And by the way, $680 is almost half of my monthly salary. Fire these idiots and hire people who would be glad for their jobs. Get real people.

  • Betty

    Too bad , I was laid off from work and pay $805 a month for insurance . They are lucky they have a job at all !!!!!! Big deal $23 …..

    They get double time and holiday pay , so sdhut up about how little they make . They need to be out of work and they will really know what it feels like to have no money !!!!!!!

    • gizmo

      anyway, isn’t this a entry job?. don’t remember them requiring a degree for that job.

    • john smart

      betty , you are ignorant . i am a current ralphs employee. you know nothing !

      • Ron

        NEWSFLASH John Smart(that last name is really inappropriate in this case), you ARE the IGNORANT one and you WILL find that out the hard way, if you go on strike. Then, when you lose your job and medical insurance, you tell us who is really the ignorant one !!!! HAPPY job hunting John, in the REAL world.

      • gizmo

        well mr smart, i would worry, there will be a million scab that will take your place being the the job market sucks.
        bad idea to strike during these times

  • TT

    they would have more money and less stress without the union…

  • earl

    They’re complaining about a few bucks extra; I have been out of a job going on two years and the Country has been without a budget going on three years now…And I do not have any health coverage. Thank God I am still healthy.

  • AmigoSan

    @ Grocery Store Employees: Your Union attorneys are going to lose, and they will do nothing more than milk you for your fees. Pay the $9-$23 a week, keep your job, and be happy.

    Alot of more qualified people are ready to take your jobs. Yes, believe it or not, millions of people can put on red apron and press numbers too.

    • Michelle

      in an economy with so many people out of the job you really think that this whole thing is over $9 a week!!!!! stop reading the rhetoric put out by the grocery stores and use you nogin! What amazes me is that while the CEO’s make millions a year on raises etc..its the workers who are being attacked for trying to make a living and feed their famalies! What is wrong with this world today??

      • Ron

        “What is wrong with this world today??” IT IS YOUR lying, corrupt, blood sucking UNION, Michelle !!!

  • Dottie

    They can go ahead and picket and refuse to work, there is always Trader Joes, Costco and a few others.

  • Realist

    The Bottom Line Simply Means That If The Grocery Stores Allow The Union Concessions Then, Someone Has To Pay For Those Concessions.

    Guess Who??!!

  • dan

    It’s funny that ALL those workers got the day off at the same time !

  • dan

    Those self check out stands work just fine.

  • Joe

    I work at Albertsons, and know April. Let me tell you all one thing, every day I go to work and thank God I have my job. I by the way do pay for my medical out of my check every week, and with every office visit, so let it be know that we as grocery workers do not have free medical! That being said I don’t believe either the union nor the major grocery chains are working with anyone’s best interests in mind. A strike would be a disaster for everyone involved. Not only would the union be destroyed so would Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons. With the public opinion against all of us the result would destroy all of us! As for April she is the voice of doom not reason, she is exasperating and tedious not inspirational by any means! Again I work for Albertsons and I know that a strike would be the end, within 9 months Ralphs would be Kroger, Vons would be Safeway, and Albertsons would cease to exist. And even though unions are definitely outdated, from the gist of your responses everyone seems to be happy to see more joblessness and unemployment for California than to hope the strike never happens. Eventually the Unions themselves will implode and hopefully we can all keep our jobs without all the useless hatred, but alas we can only hope.

    • Ron

      @Joe, not free, just dirt cheap and your DAMN union wants even more. And there is NOT one response that is against the grocers, just YOUR DAMN BLOOD SUCKING UNION. Yes, we will be HAPPY if the UNIONS are BUSTED, even if it means every union worker is unemployed. Join the real world. Tell YOUR union to accept the tiny heath insurance increase or you will be without any healthcare and a JOB !!!!

    • gizmo

      I think these supermarkets will survive, all those striking workers will be replace by those million people who are out of work for the past year and will gladly cross the picket line swinging and punching for that paycheck for their family.
      that would be the union Doom…..
      bad time to strike, am i right?

  • Shoe

    If there IS a strike, will I still be able to get my groceries delivered by

    • Michelle

      nope their part of the same union too

  • SickoftheLies

    What these BRILLIANT clerk/spokespeople fail to realize is that the economy is bad and has been. Many of the stores that they work for WILL close for good if they CHOOSE to strike rather than work. The corporations are DONE playing this game every 3 years with the union. As a former, benefited grocery worker, I can say that if you really want to see change in your life get an education and stop relying on the union as “Daddy”. Unions are the problem in today’s society. The union reps have been crying strike for a year rather than seriously bargaining. And in regards to Ms. Stein….she does not only make $46/week. Though if you listen to her sob story she would like you to believe this falsehood.

    • gizmo

      they will be replaced by the unemployed no bigging

  • Ron

    The union is saying that the increase for healthcare will amount to one-half or more of the workers pay. Are you kidding me? The union political ads are bad enough and very misleading, but this is a BLATANT LIE !!!! $9/wk. for an individual or $23/wk. for a family. How many people would love to have healthcare insurance for such a low price or any price?

  • Ray

    I can’t believe the grocery workers are fighting for healthcare under the direction of the Union Local 770. These people should look at other venues like the hospital, for example. From doctors down to the allied health professionals, we as healthcare providers pay for medical insurance way more than these workers are negotiating not to pay higher costs. All of the healthcare providers went to school and hold degrees up to certificates. These grocery workers didn’t have to attend a vocational school up to the university level. Only if you applied for cashier worker. What happened the last time with Local 770? They almost had to concede to the Albertson’s, Ralph’s and Vons. The samething goes to the MTA. They can restart the Company from scratch. Back then, the Union was feared as the most powerful entity. Now since the last strike happened, we all can see that Local 770 is vulnerable. I used to work at a grocery store that contracted with Local 770. They have to negotiate something in these contracts, because there are lots of grocery stores popping up like Gonzalez, TopValue, or El Super. The grocery worker is pretty much stuck. Local 770 can stay afloat while the worker suffers and the Companies lose some money. Or in order to remain in business we need to raise the premiums because it’s getting too costly. Other people are losing their jobs along with health insurance coverage. So a lot of people are uninsured and other people migrating from other countries that affects healthcare costs. The insurances like Kaiser, Cigna, Blue Shields or Aetna are raising the premium costs to these companies. The healthcare industry is reeling financially. What if the Company says, we’ll have the same premiums and no 50% cuts in your pay, but we will close some stores to reduce the costs? This is a lose-lose situation. I think grocery workers should go to the 10 or 12 – hour work schedule. Instead of having to come for 8 hours only. Times will be tough. You still have Stater Bros. and Super A Foods available to shop.

  • Ray

    From my previous message. Healthcare is getting too costly. You have people waiting for medical treatment that don’t have health insurance. You have people migrating to the States illegally. You can’t turn them away, according to State Laws. The grocery workers should be glad to have something in possession. There are people that earn more and don’t have health coverage. and It’s cheaper labor. You have hospital closures, You have people utilizing the emergency room as a medical clinic. Thus, making the emergency room more crowded. These people don’t pay their hospital bill. You have people more on Medi-Cal. What if a hospital or hospitals close its doors. And the grocery worker(s) has their medical insurance. And the closest hospital is 30 miles away. And the emergency room is crowded. Longer wait time. Everyone is reeling. You can’t expect free coverage, anymore. All of us have to pay. Be glad that we have health coverage. What if you get admitted and you need repairment in your body? And the surgeon has two patients that needs attention. One has health coverage and the other Medi-Cal. Guess who’s getting the preferential treatment? The person who is covered by HMO or PPO insurance. If you get charged more on health coverage then claim it back on taxes. The name of the game here is: take some and give some. .

  • ZOCK

    I hope we go on strike i been there along time we need now scab’s IT’S over i work for lucky’s and albortson. You need to have your money save again.

  • DH

    If these clerks think its bad now, wait until Obamacare kicks in.

  • geeM

    Even if I do not agree with a particular Union, I would never cross a picket line……
    The other selfish scabs and union bashers can do it, but they are just tearing down workers rights. Maybe they should throw out 40 hour work weeks, lunch breaks, etc. Walmartians want cheap, not good. That’s why so many of them could not care less if something was made in America.

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