Where to Shop If There Is a Strike (and Where Not To)  

United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union locals 400 and 27 are currently in negotiations with Supermarkets in the DC Metro area, however negotiations specifically with Safeway and Giant aren’t going well.

From the the Washington Post

Leaders of UFCW locals 400 and 27, which represent about 23,000 members in the Baltimore and Washington regions, said Friday that no progress had been made in the month-long talks. The lead negotiator for Safeway and Giant, Harry Burton, declined to comment. Bargaining is scheduled to resume tomorrow, and the deadline for a deal is Saturday, when the current four-year contract expires. Workers are slated to vote on the contract April 1.

UFCW is hosting a number of actions at DC local Safeways and Giants including tonight’s actions at the Giant on Connecticut and the one I’ll be at tonight, Safeway on M street.

More from the Post article.

According to a source close to the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing, said the companies have proposed that all employees pay modest monthly premiums for their health care. Currently, most workers do not, except for part-time workers with family coverage. The union raised the possibility of a strike, but members had not voted to take such action as of last night.

Right, modest. I'm hopeful "modest" doesn't mean Wal-Martesq "modest".

So, we in the DC Metro area are getting ready for a possible strike especially now that Giant and Safeway are interviewing scabs

So, Where Do We Shop If a Strike Happens?

I suppose the best answer to this is where not to shop and then to provide a few additional locally based options.

Where Not To Shop
Whole Foods/Fresh Fields

This grocer is adamantly anti-union. From MichaelBlueJay.com

But just because a company sells natural foods doesn't mean they can do no wrong. Many of Whole Foods' actions have been controversial, especially where their labor practices are concerned.

Co-op America has more
Although worthy of praise, Whole Foods is not above irresponsible practices. Union organizing is met with opposition from the company, with reports of surveillance and termination of employees who solicit union participation. Whole Foods is still not fully transparent about the use of GMOs in store-brand products, and has ignored shareholder requests for information on the use of toxic chemicals in products like baby bottles that are sold in Whole Foods stores. And, the company carries only a limited variety of Fair Trade Certified(TM) products such as cocoa, sugar, and bananas. As a grocery store catering to the green marketplace, Whole Foods has much to improve.

In addition to these reports, The United Farm Workers are circulating a petition for Whole Foods. From UFW

Workers at the feedlots that include Country Natural Beef cows have been demanding UFW representation for the past eight months. Beef North West is on the same Oregon compound as Threemile Canyon Farms and Willow Creek Dairy. The Beef North West workers have seen the power a union contract has on their friends and want the same things: Dignity and respect in the workplace, a family medical plan and a voice on the job without repercussions.

However, Beef North West is no closer to agreeing to recognize the UFW as the workers’ union than they were when this campaign began. This is despite Oregon’s governor asking that both sides sit down and resolve the dispute--which the union has been willing to do from the beginning.

Whole Foods reportedly sells 60% of all Country Natural Beef. This retailer--the largest chain of “natural food” stores in the US--has also refused to take any action to resolve this situation. We would hope that when Whole Foods sees the groundswell of support for the workers at the feedlot where Country Natural Beef cows are fattened, they’ll use their influence to ensure a just resolution of this dispute and a boycott will not be necessary.

I won’t hold my breath on it, however, you should go to the link and sign the petition anyway. After all, you never can tell what they’ll do.

Next up
Don’t Shop Trader Joe’s

Affordable Joe's
The privately held and non-union Trader Joe's operates 175 stores in 15 states, focusing on affordably priced private-label health foods, organic produce and nutritional supplements. To keep costs down, its stores have no service departments and a limited selection.

Now, where should you go?

Eastern Market

Eastern Market has an open air market that stocks fresh fruits and vegetables. Indoors there is also fresh meats and cheeses not to mention florists and a flea market as well. These are local merchants (well, local for a major metropolitan city). I miss the big business of Cleveland’s West Side Market, but Eastern Market is metro accessible and makes it possible for me (and others) to find what I (we) need.

Join a Community Sponsored Agriculture group. If you do this, commit to a year, MINIMUM.

Shop at the USDA farmers market.
Keep in mind that this location doesn't open until May.

There are other local farmer’s markets in DC as well as other grocery chains in the area that have current contracts like Shoppers Food Warehouse (I asked at the checkout about their affiliation) or Blooms (formerly Food Lion). Check at the store if they are unionized and under contract before shopping.

Tonight, I'll be at the Waterfront Safeway location raising awareness. Join me at 6 I'll be wearing either my white Teamsters T-shirt of Red UNITE-HERE T-shirt. Be sure to say hello if you're in the neighborhood!!

One last note, American Axle is still out on strike. Please drop a line and let them know you support them, blog about it or maybe even send a contribution to the UAW locals. You can get their address on my other American Axle blog postings here, here, here and here.


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