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actions & protests | labor

Safeway Rally--Saturday, Jan. 24, Noon

To support 70,000 striking UFCW workers in California, Portland Jobs with Justice is organizing a rally at the Lloyd Center Safeway (1100 NE Broadway) . The rally will be part of a major expansion of this campaign by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, the AFL-CIO, and National Jobs with Justice to support workers who are fighting to hold the line on health care for all workers. Please join us on Saturday, January 24, 2004 at Noon.

For more information on this, please call Portland Jobs with Justice at 503-236-5573
Background info and Safeway Boycott signup info:

More than 70,000 brave workers in Southern California spent the holiday season on the picket line standing up to corporate greed. For more than 13 weeks these workers have been holding the line for affordable health care against the Safeway-led charge to destroy health benefits for workers and their families. They are on strike or have been locked out by their employers, including Safeway-owned Vons, Kroger-owned Ralphs, and Albertsons. These workers and their families urgently need support from people like you across the country.

Pledge Now Not to Shop Safeway-Owned Stores (list of stores below)

Even though operating profits for the grocery chains have risen over 10 times faster than their contributions to worker health care in Southern California, employers are demanding the workers accept what amounts to a 75% cut in health coverage for new workers and a 50% cut for current employees. Like employers across America, they are trying to boost their profits at the expense of workers and their families.

Some of the grocery workers have sacrificed their homes, others their cars. They're putting their livelihoods and their families on the line to protect not only their health care benefits, but the health care benefits of all workers.

If Safeway has its way, children will go without medical care, families will be forced into poverty, and people will be moved from work to welfare for their health care protection. The company is asking for such dramatic takeaways that if they win, workers will lose everywhere.

Burd has been the driving force behind the company's resistance to negotiate a fair contract. He has even characterized the employers' attempt to hold down labor costs--forcing a strike--as "an investment in our future." Meanwhile, Burd cashed out over $5 million in Safeway stock right before talks broke down and the stock lost value.

These workers are on strike for all workers—union and non-union—here and across the country because they know that if these three supersize, super-profitable, supermarket chains can cut benefits in California, then every worker is at risk.

go to:  http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/safeway

Pledge not shop at any Safeway-owned stores. From San Diego to Boston and from Seattle to Miami we're asking everybody to not shop at Safeway-owned stores, including Vons, Safeway, Pavilions, Carrs, Dominick's, Randalls, Tom Thumb or Genuardi's.
Higher food prices 21.Jan.2004 10:22


The UAW has the right idea. Dont strike -try to solve the REAL problem.

Posted on Tue, Jan. 13, 2004

Gettelfinger, Gilmour: Nation must solve health care crisis
Associated Press

DEARBORN, Mich. - Top executives of the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday the nation's leaders must solve its health care crisis or face a further deterioration of manufacturing and other industries.
Speaking separately to about 1,000 auto-related company representatives at the Automotive News World Congress, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Ford vice chairman Allan Gilmour both said employee health care costs are a major detriment to the automotive industry, particularly the domestic side.
Gilmour said health care costs for U.S. businesses large and small were rising at a rate of more than 10 percent a year.
"This is a particular concern to domestic auto companies because Japanese and European competitors with plants in this country aren't saddled with these same costs," Gilmour said. "On average their employees are younger, and they have far fewer retirees."
Health care adds more than $700 to the cost of each Ford car and truck sold in the United States, Gilmour said. He called the significant rise in health care costs one of the top societal issues of the decade.
"It has created a competitive gap that's driving investment decisions away from the U.S. If we cannot get our arms around this issue as a nation, our manufacturing base and many of our other businesses are in danger," he said.
Ford chairman Bill Ford has charged Gilmour with spearheading a national dialogue on the rising cost of health care for employees and retirees. Gilmour said one avenue is to prod government officials to consider policy options to rein in the costs.
Gilmour acknowledged he had no quick answers.
"I do know that significant reform is necessary," he said. "Right now the country is on an unsustainable track and it won't get better unless we begin - business, labor and government in partnership - to make a pact for reform."
Gettelfinger, as he has in the past, called for a comprehensive single-payer national health care program. He said every other industrialized nation in the world has some form of universal national health insurance and the U.S. should adopt a similar program.
"Our health care crisis is a national problem which demands a national solution," he said.
The UAW was able to maintain its nearly cost-free health care in its labor contract negotiations with the Big Three automakers last summer.
The union was able to do so by working with the automakers on creative solutions at the bargaining table, he said, adding that political and business leaders need to do the same at the national level.
The UAW's executive board said in November it will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential race, instead leaving that decision to its local organizations.
The union, which has 675,000 active members and another 500,000 retirees, decided to make no recommendation in the Democratic presidential selection process, which began Tuesday with the nonbinding District of Columbia primary and continues next week with the all-important Iowa caucuses.
Gettelfinger said after his speech the UAW still hasn't decided whether it will back a candidate.
Asked by moderator and Automotive News publisher Keith Crain to identify his choice for the next president, Gettelfinger balked but then added, "It's not George Bush."

We tried 21.Jan.2004 23:22

Lynn Porter

We tried to set up a single-payer health insurance program in Oregon with Measure 23, which got voted down in November 2002. Aside from the Greens, we didn't get any support from the progressive community or from the unions. Since then the situation has gotten much worse, especially for low-income people. Progressives need to decide if they're willing to put energy into this. We can't do it without a lot of people power and, probably, a lot of money.

Repeat after me: LOCKOUT 24.Jan.2004 02:12

Honore Daumier

The supermarket workers are on LOCKOUT, not strike. Get it? In other words, they want to work. They also want a contract that retains their health benefits. But they did not cast the first stone. The bosses did. Now, they won't let them back into their workplaces without totally capitulating. Capisce?