(Aug. 26) — More than 300 Teamster grocery warehouse workers, their families, and labor and community partners handbilled 50 Fred Meyer and QFC stores statewide last weekend, demanding that the stores’ parent company, Kroger, provide its workers and their families with quality, affordable health care coverage.
Teams of workers and their supporters leafleted all major stores in the Puget Sound region as well as stores in Vancouver, Burlington, Sequim, Shelton, Spokane, Port Orchard, and Lacey.
“The general public needs to know that Fred Meyer is putting an undue burden of medical costs on the backs of its workers and their families,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
FRED MEYER WORKERS SPEAK OUT
Tommy Eidson, a Fred Meyer employee who leafleted with his wife and three children at the Fred Meyer store in Puyallup on Aug. 21, talked about the impact that switching to Teamsters medical would have on his family. “I have a chronic medical condition and currently pay $900 out-of-pocket bimonthly for prescriptions. The Teamsters plan would save my family thousands of dollars a year,” he said.
Another Fred Meyer employee, Steve Ballou, had this to say:
My son has Type 1 diabetes. We took him to the hospital twice last year and it cost us thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. Fred Meyer needs to start taking care of its workers and their families.
Shop Steward, Aaron Schrupp, got hit with massive medical bills when his daughter was born two years ago. He had to apply for financial assistance so that he could pay his bills.
KROGER RAKING IN THE PROFITS
Kroger reported more than $432 million in profits in the first quarter of 2011. Its CEO, David Dillon, has been paid more than $25 million in the last five years. Yet despite soaring profits, Kroger refuses to provide Teamster grocery workers at Fred Meyer with the same medical coverage as other unionized workers in the industry, and instead has initiated a campaign to undermine the collective bargaining process.
Teamsters Local 117 thanks all of those who supported the warehouse workers at last weekend’s actions. To sign up for future solidarity actions, contact Brenda Wiest at 206-441-4860.
For more information about this struggle, see The Stand’s Aug. 16 posting: Fred Meyer bargaining stalls over health care.