Your neighborhood supermarket may soon become of thing of the past, done in by non-union businesses like Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and The Dollar Store.
For decades, many supermarket chains have been a strong source of middle-class jobs in communities throughout the U.S. because their workers were union members. The Teamsters, for instance, represent thousands of drivers and warehouse workers who transport goods and help keep shelves stocked. But those jobs are becoming endangered.
Big box retailers like Walmart and Target, for example, are increasingly adding their own grocery aisles in stores in an effort to get an even bigger share of consumer dollars. In some cases they are undercutting grocery stores in part because they pay their employees so much less. Lower-end retailers take a similar tack as well.
Meanwhile, higher-end retailers like Whole Foods are claiming shoppers at the other end of the spectrum, touting their organic wares are somehow better even though many supermarkets offer the same products. But they still pay their workers less.
Taken together, it’s creating a big problem for hundreds of thousands of supermarket workers who could be affected. And it is feeding into the continuing issue of the nation’s richest making more while too many hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet.
The reality is that union jobs pay more, quite a bit more actually. In fact, the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show union members make on average $200 more a week than those who are not. That’s $10,400 a year, which is not chump change. It’s significant money that can make a real impact the day-to-day living of middle-class families.
That’s where consumers come into the picture. They need to be educated about how shopping at many supermarkets as well as stores like Costco means they are supporting fair paying jobs and are ensuring that workers can support themselves.
Meanwhile, shopping at stores like Walmart means they are doing the opposite. Walmart and others of its ilk are renowned for paying low wages and mistreating their employees. Even more infuriating, their cheapness results in the American taxpayer picking up the tab for their workers through public benefits such as food stamps. The public should not have to pay to boost multi-billion dollar businesses!
Workers are being hurt by congressional inaction, it is true. But there are decisions the public can make on their own that can help our neighbors and our communities. Union households have to support other union households! Voting with your wallet can be just as important as voting at the ballot box.