Monday, October 20, 2003

Crossing the Line

I had to make an uninformed decision to cross a picket line last week.  I pulled into an Albertson's parking lot and ducked behind the steering wheel to call a friend who I thought might've had some information on the situation. The stores were still open.  But I didn't know what it would mean for me to cross the line.  My friend knew just about as much as I did.  I'm not much of a supermarket shopper.  I was only going in to cash in my sofa change at CoinStar.  I shamefully walked through the picket line into what felt like a ghost town.  My footsteps echoed through the lifeless market.  There was such a chill in the air, I could practically see my own breath.  There were two cashiers, one examining a rubberband as the other observed (I think they were managers).  And there were three other customers, all using CoinStar!  I did see someone scurry by the picketers slurring some kind of apology about needing toilet paper.  At which a picketer blankly snapped, "Sav-On is less than 500 yards from here."  She mumbled something else and I'm pretty sure it wasn't "have a nice day."

This has been going on for over a week and I'm embarrassed to report that I'm not that much more informed.  From what I understand, the companies want to cut their health plan and the unions are protesting.  Frankly, I don't blame them.  How much can a grocery store clerk make in a week?  My guess is minimum wage plus free health care.

During my drive to work today I heard an Albertson's radio commercial - some big blowout giveaway - details are a blur.  What struck me was how they'll spend bundles on advertising and promotional freebies but they won't continue to take care of their employees the way they have from the very beginning?  Corporations!  BAH!

Mid-writing this entry, I took a break to skip down the street to Trader Joe's for a quick salad...or not-so-quick anymore!  Now I know where all the protesters are shopping!  It took me thirty minutes to get out (and they didn't even have the salad I wanted - drat!).  Now it's personal!  Come on people.  Let's get through this already so everyone can go to the grocery stores and I can make a quick TJ's stop again!

9 comments:

musenla said...

They're fighting for their health care. The chains want to cut it down to be more competitive with WalMart (which is non-union) which will be opening Supercenters all over California soon. The chains put out a big ad on the LA Sunday Times to explain their side, so obviously they're hurting BAD. I don't pity the chains, everytime they wanna cut costs, labor is the first to suffer. Their bottom line is always the value of their stock back in Wall Street. I'm not crossing that picket line.

diannevan said...

Since I don't know the specifics about this situation, I won't comment on it. I will give my take on unions and going on strike. It was an effective tool that revolutionized the working class way back when and going on strike is still needed now, sometimes. But remember the baseball strike of the mid '90s? The players were striking because they felt they deserved more money. Ever since then, I don't automatically go on the strikers' side, though usually they're right.

happyb8888 said...

It's coming to Arizona this week. All the major food companies are involved. Yes, WallMart is the problem it seems. The owners of the other markets feel they can't raise workers income or keep/give health benefits (which few get because they don't work full time.) and WallMart pricing is a lot lower than they can offer.

That Happy Chica,
Marcia Ellen

slowmotionlife said...

When our Super-Walmart opened, there were picketers all around the outskirts of the property which made things uncomfy but not unshoppable. Sad what's happening in our country; unions thrown out; corps. laying off skilled workers, hiring ones unskilled, training them at lower payrates; seniority counts for nothing; insurance costs rocketing; people forced into early retirement; sub-contractors replacing the perm. job force. I'd send Clinton a bevy of interns if he'd come back & fix this mess

diannevan said...

SlowMotionLife - I'll light a cigar in honor of your request! I agree. 4 years ago, the president was getting F*cked. Now the rest of us are.

slowmotionlife said...

Errr.. ummm.. I'll pass on that cigar. [Just to be safe *wink*] And ROFL!!!! Ain't that the truth!

freeepeace said...

Hi all, thanks for your comments...

Musenla and Happy - Thank you for the info. It helps me put the picture together. I didn't know anything about Walmart's part in this.

DiAnne - I remember thinking the baseball strike was about greed. Left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't get that sense with this strike though...but I wanted to be able to make an informed decision.

SlowMo - right on - I miss Clinton, interns and all.
AND... LOL you two!

babyshark28 said...

wow..where have I been all day :) I don't know anything about this. I saw two picketers infront of Top Foods here, but is was about Darigold milk. and...I still don't know what that is about. I guess I better get informed! lovely descriptions about how empty the supermarket was...I could feeeel the emptiness of such a great huge place...and the rubber band and the managers...hilarious. super!

rinakatay21 said...

Yeah, I've crossed the picket line a few times in the past week. I can't help it..I needed my stuff..but nobody has ever said anything to me.
But just an FYI, and for me it's hard to believe, but I heard the clerks make between $11-17 an hour. Unreal, huh? I wouldn't believe it but before I moved here I was talking to a friend of mine that worked in a grocery store out here and she made $18 an hour. I thought she was bullshitting, but, I guess not.