The Stand

Shop union in Tacoma to support middle class, our community

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By DENISE JAGIELO


In its editorial dated August 8, 2012, The News Tribune (TNT) of Tacoma called for its readers to cross a picket line.  In addition, on August 10, John Carlson with KOMO News Radio also called for people, in general, to go out of their way to shop at non-union IGA City Grocer of Tacoma by crossing the picket line set by the UFCW Local 367.  The article has called for such a breach in a city that, by the TNT’s own calculations, has a union density of 28% – one of the highest in the nation.

Moreover, the article and Carlson have tried to paint the UFCW Local 367 as the bully on this issue, in that we are simply picking on Tyler Myers and his small business that is so necessary to the revitalization of downtown Tacoma.  Such a short-sighted view of this situation ignores the thousands of working people that this Local and other unions in Tacoma represent, including grocery workers, retail sales workers, carpenters, electricians, health care workers, hotel workers, longshoremen, police, firefighters, teachers, and tradespersons, that constitute the middle class and drive the Tacoma community.

Local 367 is not the bully and has excellent relationships with small businesses in this area.  Yet, this isn’t about Local 367 — it is about Tacoma, Tacoma’s workers, and Tacoma’s future.  When you hear a union’s message of livable wages and benefits, you are hearing unions talk about a wage structure that calls for guaranteed wage increases based on longevity and hard work that go well above minimum wage and allow people to provide for their families and have purchasing power in their communities.  They are talking about affordable health care that provides workers with peace of mind that a single trip to the doctor will not financially cripple him or her or the family.  Most importantly, they are talking about good working conditions that are secure to the point that an employer cannot simply strip them away without any cause or on a whim.

Local 367, and Tacoma’s organized labor in general, support the revitalization of downtown.  However, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing so.  The community should not be fooled by the notion that just any job created is a good thing.  It should reject the notion that a job created without livable wages, affordable benefits and pension is a positive thing for the Tacoma community when they are replacing a union job that provides livable wages and benefits.  Whether the next development is a retail store, restaurant, or hotel, the next non-union development could replace a well-paid carpenter, electrician, sales associate, or food service employee.

In other words, believing that a Walmart, for example, creating 300 low-paying jobs without any benefits, is a good thing, ignores the reality that it is replacing just as many small business owners and union members earning a livable wage and affordable benefits and a pension.  The same can be said for a business such as IGA.  This Local and organized labor has and will continue to educate the public on the dangers of accepting these and other non-union employers into the Tacoma community.

The TNT article and Carlson have simply taken Tyler Myers at his word that he pays at or above union wages, without having him provide any verifiable factual support.  In addition, the article and Carlson have implied that there are former union members, plural, that claim to have better working conditions at IGA, but have quoted only one source.  We would encourage the TNT to follow up with its source, along with the other workers who have left the employ of IGA, to discover their thoughts about working for Myers.

This is why there is no better place than downtown Tacoma to send the message that union labor and union jobs are what are in the best interest for Tacoma and this is why citizens of Tacoma, and passers through, should continue to shop at Stadium Thriftway, the Safeway on Hilltop, Albertsons, Metro Market, Top Food and Drug, and Fred Meyer.  Supporting union is supporting Tacoma.


Denise Jagielo is President of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 in Tacoma. Visit www.ufcw367.org for more information.

Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=16128

Posted by on Aug 14 2012. Filed under OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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