> For Immediate Release: February 27,2004
> Statement of the United Food and Commercial Workers International President
> Doug Dority On the Southern California Strike/Lockout
> Today, I am pleased to join with the officers of the seven Southern
> California UFCW local unions in their announcement of a tentative agreement
> in the longest major strike in the history of the UFCW, the largest and
> longest strike in the history of the supermarket industry, and the first
> major strike of the 21st century.
> It is also one of the most successful strikes in history.
> After five months, the picket lines remain strong, our members remain
> united, and customers continue to honor the workers' picket lines costing
> the supermarket conglomerates billions of dollars in revenue.
> Every day, support for the fight for affordable health care grows stronger.
> Community and religious leaders have put their bodies on the line in acts of
> civil disobedience. There have been scores of arrests from Los Angeles to
> the San Francisco Bay area to Baltimore, Maryland. There are daily rallies,
> demonstrations, picket lines and handbilling from Seattle and Portland to
> Washington, DC. The Southern California supermarket strike has become a
> national cause.
> The men and women on the picket lines are genuine heroes. Their sacrifice
> for affordable family health care has motivated and activated workers across
> the nation. I am honored to be part of their union, and I am humbled as well
> as inspired by their dedication, strength and selflessness.
> These members will never be forgotten. They will always be honored and
> respected. We owe them a debt of gratitude. They have sent a message to
> employers everywhere that attempts to eliminate health care benefits will
> come at a high price. Workers will not sit idle as their families are denied
> health care protection. Workers will stand united and fight for health care.
> In Southern California, workers were given no choice but to fight. UFCW
> members have never faced, nor has any UFCW-represented employer ever made a
> more extreme or drastic demand a demand that would have effectively
> eliminated affordable health care benefits, as did the supermarket employers
> in Southern California. The UFCW, its local unions and its members rose to
> the challenge. The employers never believed that workers could sustain a
> five-month strike. The employers completely underestimated the determination
> and fortitude of their employees.
> Through their struggle, the striking and locked out workers have performed a
> service for the whole country. They have sounded the alarm for all of
> America your health care benefits at work are at risk. If the supermarket
> giants profitable, growing Fortune 50 mega-corporations can launch an attack
> on health care benefits, then every employer is sure to follow. They have
> sounded the alarm that the American health care system is ready to collapse.
> In one year, over 2 million lost health insurance. That's over 6,000 workers
> a day.
> The fight here has given us a national call to action.
> We must have national health care reform. No one company, no one union, no
> industry or group of workers alone can fix the health care system. We can
> patch it up. We can protect our members for another contract term, but the
> system continues to falter, exacting an increasing cost on both workers and
> employers and leaving more and more families without health care.
> Now is the time for action. 2004 is the year to put health care reform on
> the political agenda and demand that every candidate for office commits to
> comprehensive, affordable health insurance for every working family.
> No worker should ever again be forced to choose between a paycheck and
> health care benefits. No worker should ever again be forced into the streets
> for five months to protect health care for their families.
> The UFCW will lead the fight for health care reform. And, I believe, with
> members like our Southern California members the UFCW will win that fight.