UFCW Authorizes Strike: How to Eat Well Without Crossing the Picket Lines

ufcwstrike.jpg
Flickr user 47483261@N05
The employees in the United Food and Commercial Workers locals across Southern California have voted to authorize a strike. While they're not off the job quite yet, they've voted to reject the latest proposal submitted by Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs. Sound familiar?

The contract negotiated after the last strike in 2003-2004 expired in March and this time the issue is healthcare (pay and pensions were negotiated and agreed upon). If the supermarkets don't give in, the soonest the workers would walk off the job is three days after an immediate strike vote. A better offer seems unlikely; Vons stores have signs up advertising jobs for scabs people with selective vision who can't see t-shirted striking workers.

The same options that existed in 2003 exist now; if you don't want to cross picket lines to shop, you can still eat as well or even better, and more cheaply, by shopping elsewhere. Here are five options for you after the food you stock up on between now and Thursday runs out.

1. The Latino Way

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Flickr user y6y6y6
The ceviche bar at a Northgate market
Orange County is awash in large, clean, well-stocked supermarkets catering to specific demographics. While they may cater to specific ethnicities, it's perfectly possible to do a regular supermarket run and it will probably be cheaper. Nearly every city has at least one Mexican or Latino market. While Northgate Market and El Super are the best-known chains, Anaheim and Santa Ana's El Metate markets are my favorite; South County folks can head to one of the Tula Markets in Lake Forest or El Nopal in San Juan Capistrano.

2. The Asian Way

superhmart.jpg
Flickr user kshilcutt
There are 99 Ranch markets (Taiwanese) in Irvine, Anaheim and Fountain Valley and huge Korean markets such as H-Mart and Han Nam Chain in Irvine, Garden Grove, Stanton, Anaheim and Buena Park--a bonus of shopping at Korean markets is that meat, especially beef, is high quality and far cheaper than even Stater Bros. Central County can shop at Mitsuwa, Ebisu or Marukai (though Marukai has a small membership fee) Japanese markets, or Vietnamese markets such as Thuan Phat or ABC in Little Saigon.


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65 comments
vince
vince

trader joes. forgot to mention trader joes there

Maxrommel
Maxrommel

The clerks have NO skills. I can buy my food at Costco. Hey guys, go back to work before all of your jobs are done by robots.

Anonymuss
Anonymuss

Why did the author not include Smart & Final in his list?  Born and reared in SoCal and NON-UNION for 140 years.  They also operate SmartCo on El Toro in Lake Forest, it's just as big and clean and well-stocked as the Ralph's across the street.

DanGarion
DanGarion

The only reason I won't cross it is to respect those friends I have that are in the unions, personally I don't support the union, but my friendships are more important.

Sad_Husband
Sad_Husband

My wife works for Albertsons and has been there for 13+ years and is not happy that they may go on strike again. She voted to accept. But as always did not matter. It seems that the union makes it very hard for many of the union members to vote from Orange County as there is never a polling place in orange county for the many members.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Fresh & Easy is NOT American. As I understand they are scabs from a Great Britain conglomerate Tesco.

During the last strike I started shopping at Stater Brothers, they are a friendly Union store that makes an agreement to abide by whatever agreement is reached between the Union and "Big Chains" they have friendly helpful employees, good meat, much more reasonable prices, and they do NOT have any savings card to retain your personal purchase history, (to sell to your health insurance carrier)

Ronkunihiro
Ronkunihiro

Don't forget GELSON'S..... we're not going on strike....... Not to mention that we are as competetive or cheaper than the "Big Three" believe it or not.....

Joe
Joe

I rarely go to the Big 3 supermarkets.  Between El Metate in Costa Mesa, 99 Ranch in Fountain Valley, and Trader Joes and Sprouts in Huntington, I'm pretty much covered for most things.

Mattbamw
Mattbamw

You can look up the contract offer, but not from a union source, they won't issue a real copy of the working contract. It is much easier to lie to their members that way. It would be interesting if they actually knew what they were striking over instead of what the union wants them to think they are striking over. My word, doesn't anyone seek information out on their own anymore! If they want to buy the union line without question, then they deserve whatever they end up with. When the strike happened in '03, the initial offer on the table from the companies was by far better than what they ended up with. That was no victory for the union nor was it a victory for the workers who were out of work for months because of a strike called on a power play that backfired. This time their pensions aren't being touched and there is no grandfather clause to take more from them as years progress. They are being asked to pay $20 more a week for a family of 4 for their insurance. They are still paying BY FAR LESS than the standard 30-50% they rest of us who live in reality are paying and for better insurance than most of us will ever see. The real victims here are the workers, but it's not the companies doing the victimizing. The unions are simply not necessary to "protect the little guy" at a time when we have laws in place that do just that. Union boys: you did your jobs when it was necessary, but you are now obsolete. Hang up your hats and fad into the background, because, in todays job market, there is no shortage of people who would do anything to get the jobs, even if they cross a picketline to do it.

Sam
Sam

During the last srtike, I switched to Gelson's and have never looked back.

Riley
Riley

Isn't it a bit ironic to decide to decide to support these union workers by supporting other businesses like options 1,2,3. and 4 which pay their workers much less and give their workers less benefits? That's why options 1,2,3, and 4 can offer lower prices because they don't pay the same salaries and benefits to their workers as thoseother supermarkets.

And, with option 5, chains like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have been accused of being anti-union.

Mydogyugi
Mydogyugi

My God. If I knew it was going to be like this 27 yaers ago,i would have taken that job at smart and final.I"m so tired.

Newportblue65
Newportblue65

Great article Dave, full of info for the people. I do El Metate myself for those fresh torts......

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

That is a good way to look at it I guess.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Thats becaus the Union doesnt give a crap about your wife as unfortunate as it is.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I believe the Retail Clerks Union Hall is on Stanton Ave and Centrailia in Buena Park. I noticed the parking lot was unusually full of cars as I drove by it several days ago, (coming from Fatburger, Yummy)

909Jeff
909Jeff

Youre right they are a subsidiary of tesco and one of the fastest growing companies actually CREATING jobs here in America... but I wont let facts get in the way of Union ignorance and propaganda... That being said I've been shopping at Cardena's which is a bit sketchy but cheap and so far hasnt killed me.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Yup, I also learned about Stater Bro's during the last strike. Everyday prices are lower than Albertson's special card club prices. The only thing I go there for now is their frozen lime-aid concentrate for Margarita base, much better than Sunkist.

Sam
Sam

You don't have to give a real name or phone # to get a card, if you are that concerned about your shopping habits.

Culichi1967
Culichi1967

Dweezle.Di,

Thanks for hiting on all the right points on this matter. Gives me hope that some people are, indeed, paying attention. 

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I always found Gelson's to be rather pricey, but excellent products and atmosphere. None of the "rotting meat"odor found in some of the other markets mentioned in the article.

odikhmantievich
odikhmantievich

I'd be interested in seeing the terms. Please reply if you have a link.

What is your source on the companies' offer in '03?

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

and with options 1,2, & 3 I found the prices are not much less IF any less. you will pay less for one sale item, but pay more for other items, just like the rest.

F&E!
F&E!

I work at Fresh and Easy, we start at $10.00 per hour have a 401K, medical, dental, PTO and are NON-UNION! Great company, great people, a model for the future. Say what you will, the benefits speak for themselves.

odikhmantievich
odikhmantievich

The point is to stand in solidarity with the workers while they are on strike - and to return when they do. If you're concerned, like I am, about the workers at 99 Ranch or Trader Joe's, you can support their own organizing drives by helping to demonstrate the power of a union this time around.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Well, as usual, you continue to display your ignorance. I've been in a pay-for-performance shop my entire career. No performance increase, no raise (depending on budget realities, even performing well doesn't guarantee more money), poor performance, you're out. What part of delivering product on-time-on-budget as specified BY THE CUSTOMER do you not get? Yah,  we earn our money, as opposed to you marketing/financial leaches, we actually produce product. One anecdote about a "union run shop" hardly qualifies as an argument. Union shops are run by management, unless the management is incompetent, oh ...., wait a minute ...., I get it.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Creating more jobs in the same vein as Walmart? Just what we need, more starvation-wage jobs. Gee, why has the only portion of income-earners in the U. S. that has done well over the last 20 years the top 2%, acounting for around 10% of the income, leaving the middle earners to stagnate and the poorest to get even poorer.

This should give hope to the kids trying to escape gang-infested neighborhoods, especially seeing as how our society is doing so much to support their education to help them become productive citizens.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

yea, slave wage, go nowhere Jobs. Tea Baggers paradise.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Make your own... it's ridiculous easy, especially if you slip a bill to the kid at Jamba Juice or your local Mexi-owned juice store. Equal parts lime juice and simple syrup, and simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water boiled until it clears and let cool.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Oh they have an excellent selection of Ice cream. I am fond of Banana Moon Pie flavor personally.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Sorry Sam, I do not really care to get into a frame of mind that I need to resort to assuming a phoney persona in order to save a few ducats. I will instead resort to shopping at locations that do not care to make bank on my back. And, let those that do this know that is why I do not shop there.

Sam
Sam

Since the economy went south, Gelson's has specials that are often times cheaper than the regular, crappy stores. Sign up for their newsletter online and you get a mailer every 3 weeks with the deals. One of the managers told me their business increased (and stayed) up 30% since the last strike.

odikhmantievich
odikhmantievich

Unlikely. Professionals are easy to spot: they keep their comments short and to the point ;)

odikhmantievich
odikhmantievich

No one who actually works $10/hour is this excited about it.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

another Astroturfer Like Mattbamw below...  Cheaper for Fresh & Easy to post an advertisement posing as a comment then to pay the Adv rates of OCW.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Lets see, Minimum wage is $8.00 an Hour, a 401 K will pay the Wall Street Banker managing the money YOU pay into it more than you will ever take home IF you continue to slave till you are 70 years old, Probably Delta Dental, (negotiated cut rates at overpriced Dentists) and a Major Medical plan, (meaning catastrophic illness only no coverage for minor illnesses or check-ups)  with a $5,000 deductible and $50.00 Co-Pay which you probably pay $100.00 a week for... In other words less than Obama care will provide. All in all not much more than an entry level WALMART employee (who, if supporting a family is probably eligible for Medi-cal & Foodstamps paid for by us taxpayers)

Maxrommel
Maxrommel

Retail clerks have NO skills! They need to take what management gives them, even if it is a pay cut. Hey clerks, it's your fault you didn't learn a trade. Now get to work! Let's see if I can do it. "Paper or plastic?" Yep. I can!!

909Jeff
909Jeff

Well your shop stewards name must be Jim Jones... Drink away! 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Don't bother reasoning with Jeff, as he denies the Armenian genocide.

909Jeff
909Jeff

And there you have it... Cry me a river about when work starts and when it ends! as a salaried "exempt" employee its time to put your big boy pants on and earn that paycheck.  Salaried employees tend to make more than hourly employees and you have other benefits like how your paid time off is accrued etc... most.  Im in an industry where Im preparing client presentations and financial summaries and portfolio reviews.  No one pays me extra to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to get the job done.  But if I deliver what I promised I get access to more business, perhaps referral clients which leads to more money for me... as in my hard work pays off for me!

As far as this goes...

"Thinking that corporations can police themselves and all the rest of us have to do is stand back and get out of the way has been proven to be a recipe for disaster over and over. The roll of business is to make money, if dumping their waste in the river makes money, for instance, and no one stops them that's our problem not theirs"

In the 70's when the cuyahoga river in Cleveland was set on fire it was because of industrial waste from UNION RUN SHOPS!

so as usual you've shown YOUR unwillingness to be evaluated as an individual, and baaaa right along with the rest of your teamster goons.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Spoken like a true honk of the Koch borthers, but considering the source, no surprise.

""... no more greedy self serving organization as (sic) a labor union", spare me.

Yah I have considered why teachers need a union, I have seen what happens when teachers are not protected from arbitrary actions by the administrations and school boards. "If you retired, we could hire two teachers off the street", the fact that the person was a high-performing educator whose students consistently scored high in achievement tests was of no interest, it was all about the bucks. hardly an isolated incident. Don't get me started on how sweet a deal they have because of the unpaid forced leave every year and under-compensation for the remainder of the year they work (6 hour day, they wish). I have many teacher friends, Is it because they're lazy that they're doing class work for 10-15 hours a week on their own time? When do you think papers get graded? When do you think plans are done? When do you think parents are called?

Thinking that corporations can police themselves and all the rest of us have to do is stand back and get out of the way has been proven to be a recipe for disaster over and over. The roll of business is to make money, if dumping their waste in the river makes money, for instance, and no one stops them that's our problem not theirs.

If corporations don't like unions they only have themselves to blame. People who are treated reasonably don't go union, no body likes unions they're a measure of last resort.

As usual you've only managed to illustrate your ignorance on the subject you're spouting about.

By the way, I'm in a salaried position, in a group that delivers our product on-time, on-budget (actually about 40% cheaper than private industry, we have the numbers to prove it) and is proven to meet requirements as defined at the beginning of each cycle.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Spoken like a true union honk... The world needs fry cooks too.  Labor unions were brought about to end the exploitation of uneducated workers.  We currently have the most educated society we have ever had and we have labor laws that weren’t in place 100 years ago, therefore unions are obsolete. The best part of your argument is your thinly veiled jab at corporate greed. There is no more of a greedy self serving organization as a labor union. Every union today is more concerned with its own survival than gaining rights and benefits for its members.  Have you ever wondered why teachers need a union? Every teacher has at least a BA many have a masters and they are all credentialed.  They aren’t uneducated... But the union promotes laziness and disincentivizes teachers to accel.  Why should they when they know that through collective bargaining they are only going to get a 1.5-3% cost of living increase each year. I don’t know about you but I didn’t go to college to not let my work be judged by its merits and to have my annual raises based on the work of my peers and back room dealing by union chiefs making a shit ton more than anyone they represent!  And at the end of the day if someone doesn’t like what wal-mart and fresh and easy pay then don’t work there. But the consumer is still going to shop there.  No one has the right to a job but they do have the right to pursue the highest paying job that their skill set can allow.  If all you can do is bag groceries then your going to get paid a baggers rate.

DanGarion
DanGarion

Who is forcing people to work these types of jobs? The last I looked anyone is free to work for whatever business will hire them. No one forces anyone to have a family if they can't afford them. This is about common sense. I realize in a work with 9%+ unemployment it's hard to to blame someone for working a job that plays lower than they can afford to make, but part of this is personal responsibility. I've worked my ass off to make a livable wage and continue to do so, but if I felt I wasn't making what I deserve I would find a new job, because that is what you are supposed to do.

And to answer your question, no I don't make minimum wage, but I did, many years ago, for my first job at a fast food joint. I worked my ass off and got a raise and a promotion within 8 months and was on the fast track to becoming a manager when I graduated high school and got a different job in the printing industry that paid higher wages. I don't understand why it is so difficult for people to wrap their minds around personal responsibility, self advancement, and common sense. If we had more of those three things we'd be in better shape in the US.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

A job paying minimum wage with no benefits is commonly referred to as "slave wage jobs" primarily as the workers must work 60 or more hours a week to earn enough just to pay rent in a ghetto neighborhood. They have no time to go find a real job that pays enough to support a family. I am curious how much you make Dan, Do you work for minimum wage? I doubt it...

DanGarion
DanGarion

Slave wage? Sorry but comparing a job where you get paid and have your freedom to slavery is joke. No one is forcing people to work for any employer, there is no slavery going on so don't try to compare a job where people get paid to slavery.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

But I like it when they thank me by name. "Thank you for shopping at Albertsons, Mr. Goei," they say.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Stater's also reported the same effect, I believe the big stores' arrogance will finally be their doom.

John Price
John Price

Didn't learn a trade?  Your local butcher (the guy sharpening his knives over there) wants to have a word with you.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Tell me Max, can you tell the difference between a Walla Walla, Brown or Vidalia onion by looking at it? do you know the difference between a beef fillet or a beef tenderloin? can you stock shelves from the floor to about 7' or 8' high for 8 hours a night? Do you know not to mix food and toxic substances in that "Paper or Plastic" bag? Would you enjoy working less than 32 hours a week so management can keep you as part time and evade paying benefits to you?

I once asked a non-union building contractor what benefits he offered his employees, did he have a medical plan or holiday pay? His reply? "I offer a paycheck every 2 weeks, I pay Employee taxes which cover unemployment & I offer Workers Compensation Insurance", (which is mandated by law). perhaps you work for, or ARE one of those assholes.

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