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Originally posted by DeltaChaos
I think people consider it too difficult. I don't think I need to go that deep, just like a general career file on the cabinet members.
If it got done, I think we could use it to make your project easier, ya?
Wal-Mart is coming! Wal-Mart is coming!
That's the industry emergency that Safeway, one of the largest U.S. grocery chains, is using to justify its anti-worker drive in California.
Safeway is leading the charge to demand givebacks from striking and locked out grocery workers in Southern California. Along with Albertsons and Ralphs (Kroger's), Safeway's Vons and Pavilion stores are asking employees to start paying for a major chunk of their health insurance. Under the companies' proposals, workers and their families will lose $4,000 to $6,000 a year in health insurance benefits.
The companies' ultimate goal, says Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents the grocery workers, is "effective elimination of health benefits in their stores, and ultimately in the entire industry."
Refusing to accept the companies' concessionary demands, Safeway workers went on strike in October. In a show of corporate solidarity, Albertsons and Ralph's then locked out their employees. Safeway, Kroger's and Albertsons control 60 percent of the Southern California grocery market.
As the labor dispute has dragged out into its third month, the striking and locked out workers have seen their strike pay cut -- down to $100 a week -- and their health benefits run out.
But the workers "will not be starved into giving up their health insurance," says Cashen.
Safeway and the other chains' justification for their concessionary demands is the threat posed by non-union grocery sellers, foremost among them Wal-Mart.
"There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this negotiation because of the dramatic changes we have seen and experienced in our industry," according to Vons President Tom Keller. "We are seeing a significant influx of non-union, discount stores and unionized independent operators with union contract agreements that provide lower wages and significantly fewer benefits than we provide. These formats pay much lower labor expenses than we do. This gives them an unfair advantage over other union operators."
But while Wal-Mart is certainly a serious threat to economic justice and worker well-being (see "Corporations Behaving Badly: The Ten Worst Corporations of 2001," Multinational Monitor, December 2001), the Wal-Mart menace is not the real reason for Safeway's demands.
The real reason is simply the company's greed, and its desire to offset a series of bad business moves.
Wal-Mart isn't yet even in the Southern California market. The company has announced plans to open 40 supercenters throughout California; analysts estimate that would give Wal-Mart 1 percent of the regional market.
Not exactly a big enough threat to explain why Safeway and the others would weather a strike and lock-out that is costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost earnings.