Working Together to Stand in Solidarity
Within UFCW Local 135, we have three major challenges for the 2017 year that will require all of us to work together in solidarity.
The first involves our organizing campaign with ethnic markets that UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian discussed in last month’s worker.
To reiterate what Mickey said, “ethnic markets are promoted as a family shopping experience where even the kids can have some fun. But there is a dark side to these stores.
“More and more ethnic grocery stores and chains are popping up – particularly in Hispanic and Asian communities. However, many of these employers are exploiting their workforce. Very few ethnic stores are union. And more likely than not, they don’t offer benefits and wages are low. These workers actually live in poverty.”
As we begin to identify workers in these stores that do not have the benefit of being in a strong union, we will call on you to reach out and have conversations about the differences in working in a union versus and non-union environment.
Many of you have experience in both union and non-union environments and your voices in particular will be tremendously important to let workers in the ethnic grocery stores know that they can win their struggle and have the support of UFCW sisters and brothers.
Second, our Food4Less contract expires in June and we have already begun the process of bargaining for the new contract.
As we know in the past the Kroger Company has tried to make Food4Less employees agree to an inferior contract than what they negotiated for Ralphs employees. Just as we all stood last year with our sisters and brothers at Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons, we now need to come together to make sure our Food4Less members are not treated as second-class citizens.
After bargaining with them last year, we know that we’re bargaining with the same Kroger Company whose top executives make millions of dollars a year, while our own Food4Less members struggle to make ends meet.
Just as we demonstrated to Kroger in last year’s negotiations that we won’t back down without a fair contract, we will again stand in solidarity to make sure our Food4Less members enjoy affordable health care for their families, fair wages and a decent pension.
Finally, we will be negotiating our first CVS contract since our amazing organizing campaign last year added over 50 stores and nearly 1,000 new members to our union. This is an opportunity for our newly organized CVS members to step up and show leadership so that we can fight for many of the issues that energized our members to join the union in 2016.
This is also the opportunity for all of us to welcome our new CVS members into our union by showing them that their fight is our fight. Together we can win a fair contract.
We discussed at the steward conference the importance of member activism. Strong engaged members are the key to the power of our union. In these three fights in 2017 for fair contracts at Food4Less and CVS and in organizing new members at ethnic markets, we have a great opportunity to demonstrate that power.
Over the coming months your union representatives and organizers will be reaching out to you to support you in getting active in these campaigns.