Support Southern California Supermarket Workers’ Struggle for Decent Wages and Benefits 2011 Action of Immediate Witness

BECAUSE our Unitarian Universalist Principles affirm “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and call for “justice, equity and compassion in human relations” and

BECAUSE our denomination has a long history of opposing racism and sexism;

WHEREAS full-time supermarket workers in Southern California (SoCal) earn an average of less than $30,000 per year, despite the high cost of living in the area;

WHEREAS many workers get only 24 hours of work per week and therefore earn far less;

WHEREAS SoCal supermarket workers are disproportionately African-American and Latino;

WHEREAS SoCal supermarket workers are disproportionately female;

WHEREAS the 5-month strike/lockout of these workers in 2003 resulted in reductions in health insurance and pensions;

WHEREAS, despite that, the 62,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers voted overwhelmingly on April 21, 2011, to authorize a strike against the three major SoCal supermarket chains—Ralphs, Albertsons and Von’s;

WHEREAS the supermarket chains are demanding further increases in workers’ payments for health insurance;

WHEREAS, by authorizing a strike, the supermarket workers acted on behalf of all workers, courageously rejecting the Great Recession rhetoric of “shared sacrifice,” which has so far meant primarily that only workers (employed and unemployed) and their families sacrifice;

WHEREAS, in 2003, the supermarket chains adopted a “national strategy,” relying on profits from operations throughout the US to offset losses in Southern California; and

WHEREAS it appears likely that the workers will strike within a few weeks of this General Assembly;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association:

  • Calls upon UU congregations in Southern California to support the supermarket workers in ways such as: educating our members, organizing petition campaigns and pledges not to shop at supermarkets where workers are on strike, holding demonstrations, walking picket lines, serving meals to the workers if they strike, and organizing congregations of other denominations and the community in general to do the same;
  • Calls upon congregations outside Southern California to a) support the strikers in ways they consider appropriate such as: letters of support, donations to the strikers, petition campaigns, demonstrations at markets owned by the parent companies of the three supermarket chains: Safeway (Von’s), Kroger (Ralphs and Fry’s), and Supervalu, Inc. (Albertsons); b) collect pledges not to shop at stores owned by the chains if the workers strike; and c) urge members of the community not to shop at those stores until the strike is settled.