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Portland grocery workers OK strike; SW Wash. could be next

The following is from UFCW Local 555:

TIGARD, Ore. (July 8, 2019) — United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 Portland-area grocery store workers have voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike against Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Safeway. As of the end of June, these votes include Portland-area grocery store workers only. The voting process will continue across Oregon and SW Washington in July and August and a final decision will not be made until all votes from across the jurisdiction are aggregated.

Local 555 membership has previously delivered wage petitions to management at stores across the jurisdiction, stating: “We, the undersigned, are prepared to do whatever it takes to get an equitable wage increase that makes it possible for us to live in our communities and buy groceries at our stores.” However, contract negotiations have been going on for more than a year and the employers continue to respond in a disengaged manner, unwilling to consider the financial hardships consistently demonstrated by their employees.

“The employers seem to be under the impression that our members will be thrilled with increases of nickels and dimes,” said Dan Clay, President of UFCW Local 555. “I, along with our member-comprised bargaining team, believe our hard-working members deserve much, much more. A strike vote identifies where our membership stands on this issue. We are demonstrating that we stand together, united, and very ready to fight as hard as we must for what we deserve.”

The motto reverberating this year through the labor community, including UFCW, is that “one good job should be enough.”

“The working class in our country work too hard to be living in their cars and store break rooms,” said Jeff Anderson, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 555. ” No one with a job (or two!) should be eligible for food stamps, and yet these employers pay so little that many UFCW members are put in the position of needing to access government benefits in order to feed their families. This is not the fault of those who are working incredibly hard to make ends meet. It’s the fault of greedy corporations. For example, Kroger—the company that owns Fred Meyer and QFC—just posted a 14% increase in stockholder dividends, and yet they can’t pay their workers enough to allow them to live and shop in their communities?”

To add insult to injury, Local 555 has discovered a massive gap in pay equity between men and women at Fred Meyer stores. There is a two-tiered wage structure in place at many grocery stores (often called “Schedule A & B”) and the most common difference in compensation between those is $3.70/hour. Fred Meyer’s own data demonstrates that they are overwhelmingly likely to hire women into these lower-paid positions. See this infographic or click here for more information.

TAKE A STAND — UFCW Local 555 members are asking all concerned community members to sign this petition in solidarity.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 represents nearly 25,000 working men and women in Oregon and SW Washington and has grown to be the largest private sector labor union in Oregon. Local 555 members are a diverse group of workers in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare, among other industries.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!