President Scardelletti sent the following letter to the Local and District Chairmen in the five Action Cities.
January 21, 2004
The AFL-CIO has asked our Union to assist in expanding campaign activities in support of these grocery workers to Safeway stores in the following Action Cities: Bay Area/San Francisco; Baltimore, MD; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Washington, D.C. These are key markets for Safeway and Safeway is leading the attack on these workers. I am requesting that the members of your local/district in these areas participate in campaign activities to support the grocery workers in their struggle and NOT shop at Safeway until these grocery workers have a new contract agreement.
Corporate greed is on the offensive, Giant, profitable corporations nationwide are aggressively pursuing an agenda to gut contracts, lower living standards, and destroy working standards for all working men and women. Health care benefits are under attach nationwide, with giant, profitable corporations simply dropping employee coverage or putting the cost of employee health care premiums out of reach for working people. Currently, 44 million Americans—more than 80 percent of whom come from working families—have no health insurance.
The companies—Safeway, Albertson’s and Kroger supermarkets—are demanding to split the workers’ health care fund into two separate components for new and current employees. Their proposal for a cap on health fund contributions for new hires would provide no meaningful protection and immediately could put those workers onto welfare for their medical needs. Current, older employees would face a choice between drastic benefit cuts or unaffordable employee paid premiums within two years. The grocers are conducting a deceitful PR campaign, claiming they are only asking employees to pay a $5 to $15 premium for their coverage.
If these wealthy corporations succeed in destroying affordable health care, there will be no stopping a corporate tidal wave that will sweep away benefits in other contracts for all workers and in every industry.
Mobilizing on behalf of striking workers is the best protection we can provide our members and their contracts. The labor movement must not allow the line to be broken in Southern California, or the attacks on health benefits will grow so broad and strong that our members—sooner than later—will be forced onto the front lines.
I have enclosed the name and phone number of the AFL-CIO coordinator in your area. Please contact the coordinator as soon as possible, and get your local/district involved with your AFL-CIO Central Labor Council and community allies in this campaign for justice for grocery workers.
If we act now, we can make a difference in this struggle. I urge you to rally your membership to a vigorous and sustained effort to beat corporate greed and hold the line for America’s health care.
Justice For Safeway Workers Campaign
Action City AFL-CIO Coordinators