To shop or not to shop

By | Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 7:36 pm

I received this letter in the mail yesterday from a food workers union. It’s about the changes that have occurred at SuperValu on 80th Street since the new owners purchased it in 2005. The letter explains how all of the employees were terminated and had to re-apply for their jobs. Most were hired back, however, and even received raises, although their health insurance plan was changed, which resulted in those who were enrolled in it paying more for the same coverage. The letter ends by asking everyone to stop shopping at SuperValu until a new contract is accepted that provides for good jobs and affordable health care for all employees.

This is a very confusing letter to me. My first thought was that this union wants to put SuperValu out of business, which leaves all of these people unemployed. If everyone stops shopping at SuperValu, that’s exactly what will happen. How does the union benefit from this? And how do the employees themselves feel about this letter from the union that supposedly supports them? I was curious enough to ask, so I did.

I talked to a SuperValu employee, and this employee told me that they haven’t even paid union dues for months! Considering that, the union really doesn’t seem to have anything to lose if these employees all end up without jobs. But have they really been fighting for a new contract all this time? This employee went on to explain that their last union contract had also been expired for over a year prior to the new owners even buying the store–because the old owner only wanted to sell, and didn’t want to negotiate a new contract. It sounds to me like this is a non-union store, and it has been for some time. So why can’t the union just give up this store instead of possibly causing many people to become unemployed?

I’m not sure about anyone else, but if I were working there, I’d be glad to have a job these days, and I wouldn’t be too happy about this letter from a union supposedly supporting me, by telling everyone to stop patronizing the store I earn my living from.

Please excuse me now, I have to go shopping for a few things….AT SUPERVALU!