California Grocery Clerks go on Strike

Three major supermarket chains said Sunday they plan to hire temporary workers to keep hundreds of stores open as more than 70,000 grocery clerks in Southern California began a strike.

Clerks at Kroger Co.'s Ralphs, Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Albertsons grocery stores went on strike late Saturday after negotiations between union representatives and store officials broke off, with health care coverage a key sticking point.

Grocery clerks work a minimum of 24 hours a week, with 70 percent working part-time. They earn, on average, about $15 an hour, said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770 in Los Angeles and one of the negotiators.

Vons president Tom Keller said the chains’ contract proposal does not call for wage reductions and asks employees to pay $5 a week for individual health care coverage and $10 to $15 a week for an entire family.

So they have unionized grocery clerks in California making $15 an hour? That’s weird. Where I live you can hire a PC tech for that kind of money. Must a Cali thing. Where’s Ahnold on this?

More importantly, why aren’t you categorically on their side in their search for a “minimum decent living”?

This illustrates the point many have made about the “minimum decent” standard for laws. It is endlessly inflationary and expands at the whim of special interest groups, and even if it began as an economically sustainable formula is guaranteed to become otherwise in a free society. Democracies of any sort only know how to vote themselves more benefits, not less.

I haven’t decided yet. There’s no doubt that unions do/did have an important part in redressing grievances and unfairness. Of course the flip side was rampant corruption. Perhaps the cost of living in Cali is so high that grocery clerks have to make $15 per hour to make ends meet.

I hope they all get fired and replaced by non-union workers who get paid $6-8 an hour.

If you don’t like your job, find another one. Cashiers shouldn’t complain too loudly because they are easily replaced.

:lol: Lawd have moicy, what a caricature!

Precisely the point of unionization – so that the vulnerable can organize and prevent exploitation by employers.

Why don’t you just mosey on back to the plantation?

The stores around here have been advertising for scabs for a couple of weeks, but they’re paying more like $10-15 an hour depending on what you do (like $10 for checkers, but $15 or more for butchers). But I assume those workers get no benefits, which is the sticking point in the negotiations with the union.

Also, I think that article is a little inaccurate. Last I heard, the Vons workers were striking and Albertson’s management was honoring a lockout agreement. I think Ralph’s is still using union labor.

As an aside, two of my coworkers and I have been hired to represent any strikers who get arrested as a result of picketing. So now I feel weird shopping at a union store and am probably going to drive down to Whole Foods (a nonunion shop) to buy my groceries today.

If you can’t see a reasonable distinction between, say, coal miners asking for safety features and greedy, unskilled labour like cashiers demanding even more…it is your plantation that is crying out for you. Unionization is a great idea, within reason.
Once again, the ever expanding standards of “living wage” are there to distort the debate.

If you can’t see a reasonable distinction between, say, coal miners asking for safety features and greedy, unskilled labour like cashiers demanding even more…it is your plantation that is crying out for you. Unionization is a great idea, within reason.
Once again, the ever expanding standards of “living wage” are there to distort the debate.[/quote]

Who are you to decide?

In a very real way, unionization is simply one element of market forces at work. Workers build a coalition, then negotiate for salaries. The grocery stores, in turn, form business assisiations that negotiate as a group with the unions for what they’re willing to pay.

Strikes are one tactic the unions use; hiring replacement workers are a tactic the store owners use. In the end, strike or not, the unions and the store owners eventually agree on a salary/benefits package. This is not a case where the government steps in and mandatesn a “living wage” (whatever that means). Instead, it’s two groups of grownups with differing views sitting across a table and negotiating.

In the end, it’s this back-and-forth that determines what the market rate for paying a grocery store clerk will be.

They’re striking here in St. Louis, as well. Problem is, the only supermarkets in town are union and they are all on strike. So I have to cross a picket line or drive 25 minutes to grocery shop.

I checked out the scene at my local store. Ralph’s is honoring the lockout agreement as well, so all three major LA chains are using scab labor. Ralph’s is advertising $8 an hour for checkers, up to $19 an hour for butchers. I’m told the teamsters are honoring the picket line, and the grocery stores have taught management employees how to drive the trucks from the parking lot into the loading dock. The picket looked pretty orderly to me, and there weren’t any cops around.

How dare those employees use the means at their disposal to attempt to get paid enough money to live on? Don’t they know that all retail jobs are supposed nothing more than a way to exploit workers?

Listen – Unions can be greedy, corporations can be greedy. But I’m not about to complain about grocery clerks fighting for the ability to make a whopping $30,000 a year.

Anyone else read Nickled and Dimed?

You can argue that this specific union is bad, but I don’t see how they can be bad in general. What, workers shouldn’t be allowed to form collective contracts?

That’s pretty much what I did. Argue that a specific union was full of shit. Or were you addressing bmulligan?

This specific union is bad? Shit man, the $30,000 a year is like what you get after 20 years of working there. Healthcare would also be a nice thing to have at a full time job, don’tcha think?

Have you even looked at other unions? Like, the ILWU, which repesent dockworkers in most West Coast ports.

WAGES. The maritime association said employers now pay dockworkers an average annual salary of $106,833 per year, with marine clerks earning $128, 421 annually. Salaries would grow 17 percent under the latest PMA proposal.

If you want to go after unions for getting too much money for their employees, supermarkets are not the place you need to be looking.

Those dockworker income numbers are horseshit, BTW. They apparently took the salary for workers who don’t work full time - which describes virtually all of the dockworkers - and then annualized that out to give an “annual salary,” among other things. It’s getting to the point where you can’t trust a fucking number in the paper.

http://maxspeak.org/gm/archives/00000594.html

I was.

I stand corrected.

DAMN THAT LIBERAL MEDIA.

What’s wrong with doing that? If you work half the year and earn $53,000 as a dockworker, that’s just as insane as working the whole year and making $106,000.

But they deserve every penny. Have you SEEN “On the Waterfront”?
Shudder.

What’s wrong with doing that? If you work half the year and earn $53,000 as a dockworker, that’s just as insane as working the whole year and making $106,000.[/quote]

It’s kind of like taking a teacher’s pay for 9 months and annualizing it out to get “annual teacher salary.” Being regularly unemployed for stretches is a part of the job, I think, and you it’s not exactly easy to run two careers or whatever in this case.

Those salary numbers also included some overtime-based lying, so I wouldn’t worry about it.