Organic Consumers Association

Unions Extend Strike Against Safeway, Kroger, & Albertson's Nationwide

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JANUARY 20, 2004
5:06 PM
Sarah E. Massey 202-637-5018

Union Movement to Extend Grocery Workers' Strike and Picket Nationwide

WASHINGTON - January 20 - Union leaders and the AFL-CIO announced today that the labor movement will extend nationwide its efforts to hold the line for
affordable healthcare in its fight with grocery chains in Southern
California. The announcement was made at a meeting of union leaders from
more than 50 cities and UFCW officials. The record mobilization includes
community support and intense education of Safeway shoppers. The
announcement follows the breakdown of yet another effort to persuade Safeway
- - the lead grocery chain in the dispute - - as well as Ralphs and
Albertsons, to abandon their extreme demand for the effective elimination of
health care benefits.

"We expect an overwhelming response among consumers and the community,
because shoppers understand that Safeway is mounting an attack on health
care standards that will affect all working families," said AFL-CIO
Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. "America's workers and grocery shoppers
draw the line at corporate greed and profiteering at the expense of basic
healthcare coverage for workers."

"Safeway's CEO Steve Burd would like the public to believe that the strike
and lockout is about a few dollars a paycheck," said UFCW
Secretary-Treasurer Joe Hansen. "But these grocery chains¹ demands will lead
to the end of affordable family health care. We won¹t let them put enormous
profits before people."

"We will win this strike for all California families and all working
families. Health care is that important for everyone," said John Burnett who
is a 25-year Kroger/Ralphs employee and member of UFCW Local 1167. "Steve
Burd doesn¹t know what it¹s like for working families making sure our kids will have the medical care they need. Burd has yet to realize that affordable family health care is worth fighting for. But he will."

Huge, profitable companies ­ Safeway/Vons, Kroger/Ralphs, and Albertsons ­
offered a dramatic, permanent cut in healthcare benefits and two-tiered pay
scale in the latest contract. Even though they reaped great profits in
recent years and can afford the benefits their workers need, Kroger,
Safeway, and Albertsons stores¹ argue that they need to cut benefits to
remain competitive.

"Clearly, these big grocery chains have miscalculated the strength and
resolve of the grocery workers and misjudged American shoppers who honor the
workers' fight. The 13 million members of the AFL-CIO stand behind the
70,000 striking and locked-out UFCW grocery workers in Southern California
and will do whatever it takes to make sure that these striking and locked
out workers hold the line one day longer than their employers," concluded


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