This year we will be going into grocery contract negotiations which we expect to be more contentious than ever before. To get through this, we will not only need member solidarity and strength, but activism as well.
What is “activism?” Activism is taking action to affect social change, and can occur in many ways and in many forms.
Activism isn’t a maybe – it’s a must. We must all be involved. We must all physically come out in support of our union and other unions. We want to see you everywhere.
Activism is about social, political, economic or environmental change, and can be led by individuals but is often done collectively through social movements – in our case, through the labor movement.
The Labor Movement is an organized effort on the part of workers to improve their own economic and social status by united action through the medium of labor unions. The activities of labor unions further the cause of organized labor and workers.
For us, it means we will have to work together to affect change for ourselves and our members. Some examples are: taking strike votes, picketing and leafleting stores. All of these have led us to succeed in the past whether it be with contract negotiations or actions that led to the shutdown of a non-union Albertsons at Palomar Hospital a couple of years ago, or to force the only non-union Rite Aid to become union last year.
Fortunately UFCW Local 135 has many friends within the labor movement, from other unions. They have helped us in the past and we may need their help in the near future, just as they may need our help at times too.
They have helped us by coming out and picketing and leafleting Food 4 Less in 2014 when we were fighting for a good contract. We essentially held a strike without taking our members out of their stores. We picketed along with activist members from all of the grocery stores we represent as well as with help from members of other unions. And it worked.
Last year, in order to get a new and the only Southern California non-union Rite Aid to become union, we picketed and leafleted outside the store in Del Mar with help from our IBEW brothers and sisters and from the faith community at Interfaith Center for Worker Justice. This all happened while we were going through Rite Aid negotiations. Activism and our strength and solidarity is what got our members their best contract yet. We have to thank all who came out for us by helping them in the future.
Only with our members’ activism, will we be able to negotiate a good grocery store contract. As I look to our history, I see how important activism is.
Let’s let our history guide our future. We know what works and I urge all of our members who are activists to bring someone out with them when we have an action and to our meetings.
Be a mentor. Stay informed and be the connection between the union and your co-workers.
Be an organizer. Part of a leaders responsibility is to help build an active and united membership in the workplace by welcoming new employees and letting them know how they can become involved.
Always challenge your co-workers to help and participate in actions, rallies and strikes. – whether it’s for our union or for another one.
For those who are not yet activists, we look forward to meeting you.