SAN JOSE (KCBS) – As Northern California supermarket workers step up pressure for a new contract, some local shoppers are being asked to sign pledge cards showing their support for unions.

CPA Bobby Benjavino, who was shopping at a Safeway store in San Jose Thursday, said that he was more than happy to sign the pledge card.

“I remember as a kid I worked at the grocery store to go through college, and in those days grocers could actually make a living, support a family, own a home and do all of those other things,” said Benjavino.

Retired SaveMart butcher Frank Delerico outlined one of the union’s key concerns.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

“They’re trying to take away medical benefits,” said Delerico. “Actually they made a proposal to take the retiree medical benefits away from the retirees, which they earned with their hard work. So we really want to support that.”

While not commenting on the negotiations, Safeway spokeswoman Susan Houghton said that it’s all about trying to stay competitive with their non-union rivals.

”The grocery industry really has changed dramatically, especially in Northern California,” said Houghton. “There are a number of new retail players, many of whom are non-union operators, and that really changes the perspective for those who are union.”

The contract, involving Safeway, SaveMart and Raley’s expired last October.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (14)
  1. Ann Mason says:

    This problem didn’t just come out of left field. For a long time, consumers thought we were making good choices when we went bargain shopping. We neglected small bsuinesses which were good for the local economy because chain stores had better prices.

    Now those chain stores are at risk because non-union chains and e-tailers are proving to be cheaper yet.

    There’s no end in sight. The current economy is forcing many of us to shop for bargains exclusively, so non-union businesses which keep labor costs to a minimum will continue to be rewarded for keeping their workers poor.

    1. Guapi says:

      That is absurd. Businesses don’t “keep their workers poor”. No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head and saying they have to work there. This is a free country ad if you don’t like one company’s pay and benefits offerings… you go to another one.

      1. Andrew says:

        Your complete misunderstanding of the realities of the balance of power in the employer vs. employee relationship is absurd.
        The reality is that there are more people that want to work than there are jobs.
        The employers hold all the cards and will not pay a penny more for labor then they are forced to. Workers are desperate and there are no other jobs to go to… thats why non-union employers, especially in the service sector, can and do offer low wages and part-time employment almost exclusively.
        A Union is the only mechanism that has been proven to be effective in shifting that balance of power back towards workers.

      2. Guapi says:

        Yes, to you it is absurd. But I don’t subscribe to your “everyone should coddle me” point of view. One could argue that there are not enough jobs because trillions of dollars that could have been invested into trustworthy small businesses was instead wasted and given to predictable failing businesses like Solyndra. But my point is… there is always a job somewhere and if you have to move to another state to find it…then do it. The employers do not hold all the cards. I can quit my job anytime I want to and go get another one. If workers are so desperate as you say… maybe they did not study hard enough in school. And whos fault is that? Try going back to school.
        A Union is the only mechanism that has been proven to be effective in raising the cost of goods and services through the roof, lowering productivity and creativity, and fostering an entitlement attitude in a large segment of the American population.

  2. Silly Libs says:

    I wont let my wife shop at Vons or Albertsons or any other union grocery store. $150.00 worth of overpriced groceries in 4 bags? So my family is supposes to do without to help pay for pensions and benefits and good pay for someone else? Never. Not this family. Same reason I wont buy a GM car or GE light bulbs. Its not that I dont buy American, as a matter of fact, I just purchased a Smith & Wesson .40 Caliber hand gun because it WAS made in the U.S.

    1. Genius Conservatives says:

      Hey Bro

      You mad or something? Anyway, if we don’t stick together as workers and consumers, someday you’r job will be on the chopping block. See if everybody gets minimum wage then who could afford to buy what you’re selling? Get it … They will replace you with cheaper help, I doubt you are that special. By the way, ALL my arms are American Made ,Brother.

      1. U good says:

        You understand the way it really is. Preach it!

      2. U good says:

        I 100% agree.!

  3. Alan Anderson, San Jose says:

    This is the same attention seeking San Jose union that left hunger-striking Mi Pueblo workers starving in 2011 and BEVMO! workers thirsty for more attention in 2010, but no contract. Single day publicity stunts from a one-trick pony doesn’t get much attention. I feel bad for the members of this publicity hungry union.

    1. Alex says:

      I am a member of ufcw local 5 and I agree that they are a bit weak with there outreach and bargaining tactics. I try to give suggestions and educate my coworkers but the truth is the people in charge of outreach at local 5 have the media savvy of a hermit.

  4. NON-UNION says:

    Seems like I can put my children thr]u college, or someone elses. No contest, I’ll worry about my own, first.

  5. U good says:

    It’s sad people don’t realize the the bigger picture here. ALL businesses are starting to follow suit. In all lines of industry. How soon will it be before your boss does the same thing…? Why not? Everyone else is doing it and people are not supporting there fellow workers and telling bosses this is not right! It called industry standard in competitive wages, people. Companies are starting to following suit and everyone’s benefit’s and pay will be cut.

    Bosses are just using the economy as a excuse to take more. Companies are struggling because of Corp. CEO/Exec bloated salaries, medical and retirement. Take a look at Raley’s for instance..Mrs. Joyce Raley Teel is worth 1.3 Billion and her companies revenue is reported at 3 billion for 2011. Just look it up on Forbes. These grocery stores are fortune 500 companies. These companies are just greedy and not struggling.

    There just not making what they WANT to make and using the excuse of a “bad economy” as a excuse to cut more from workers and make even more money. This is a really lousy and disgusting approach. So how long before your boss sees this as a way to maximize his profits and starts doing the same to you because other companies are doing the same. Have a degree? See how people are being asked to settle for less. How long before your job is outsourced because some cheap foreigner will do your job for much less?

    It’s happening people, and it WILL happen to everyone sooner or later in all fields of work. Lay off’s, pay cuts, benefit cuts and all, (you see it in the news all the time.) Your pay, benefits will get smaller and things will continue to get more and more expensive all because you don’t back up your fellow workers. You feel the middle-class shrinking into non-existence??

  6. Alan Anderson, San Jose says:

    Only the brainiacs at Local 5 would hold a Community Support Campaign but not tell the membership WHERE. LOL.
    “Actions will continue this week, rolling out in Alameda and Oakland on Thursday March 8. Details will be posted here as we get closer to the event.”

    No details have been posted, proving it’s only a photo-op publicity stunt to show the International Union how hard Ron Lind is “working” for the membership during these negotiations. Smile for your cameras, boys.

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