Hungry for justice


Fifty-thousand grocery workers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local, have reached an agreement with the owners of Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons.

The previous contract ended in March and workers had voted to authorize a strike if a deal wasn’t reached by August 8th. Owners of the big chains had wanted to reduce the retirement contributions to pensions and healthcare, make it harder for newer employees to earn pay raises, extend the retirement age by five years, and cut holiday pay. They also offered a meager 10 cent pay increase to be phased in over three years, even as the cost of living in Los Angeles soars.

Meanwhile, business is booming. As UFCW 770 President Rick Icaza said, “Our members are fighting to make ends meet, yet these corporations made BILLIONS in profits last year. It is inexcusable the way they are nickel and diming their hard-working employees, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck.”

The deal, which was overwhelmingly approved by members, contains raises of nearly a dollar an hour over the next three years, retirement security, and improved notice of scheduling.

In 2003, grocery workers went on a strike that lasted 141 days. No one wants to go without pay, but the hardworking people at Ralphs, Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons, whose aching muscles and sore feet make a tremendous fortune for their employers, have shown they have the resolve to hold out for a just contract.

In the end, that clearly made all the difference.