On the Picket Line

California grocery workers rally for wage raise, more work hours

By Bernie Senter
July 29, 2019

LOS ANGELES — Over 300 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union and some supporters rallied in front of a Ralphs grocery store here July 9. “We work at different companies but we’re all fighting for better wages to take care of our families,” Fermin Rodriguez, a 14-year worker at El Super market and member of UFCW Local 770, told the Militant.

Grocery workers in Southern California voted overwhelmingly in June to authorize a strike against hundreds of area stores operated by major national supermarket chains, including Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons and Pavilions. Some 46,000 unionized workers organized by the UFCW are demanding higher wages, more hours, continued health care coverage and retirement benefits.  

“I work hard. Every time I get my check it gets smaller,” Michael Rogers, a deli worker at Ralphs, told protesters. “Every time I ask for more hours, they lower my hours. We can’t live on one job like this.  

“What’s wrong?” he yelled to the crowd. “Greed,” the crowd roared back. “We’re not even making minimum wage. We have to stand up to corporate,” Rogers said.