(LOS ANGELES)– In the midst of a pandemic that has affected hundreds of their co-workers, food supply-chain workers, along with elected leaders and community supporters turned out for a socially-distanced shopping bag/leaflet distribution and demonstration at a Southland grocery store to draw attention to the 4,000-plus Teamster warehouse workers and truck drivers that deliver food and supplies to Southern California grocery stores who are facing the possibility of a work shutdown.
Working under a tenuous contract extension, workers and theiremployers – Albertsons (includes Vons and Pavilions) and Kroger (includes Ralphs and Food4Less) – have been in contract negotiations since early August and are deadlocked over a main issue: the grocers’ effort to take away affordable health care from workers’ families.
“Health care is an absolute necessity for our families, we’re in a pandemic and we need to stay safe to be able to do our jobs,” said Tony Durazo, a warehouse worker.
Despite record profits and huge executive compensation, area grocery chains are demanding that hardworking Teamster families bear the brunt of the increased cost of health care, an expense no family can afford in these tough times. The workers’ request is simple: that the grocers continue to provide affordable family health care, which the employers can clearly afford.
“Since the pandemic began, these workers have worked tirelessly including 14- hour days to keep the food supply chain moving- keeping stores supplied with groceries and supplies for families across our communities. It is pure greed, for these employers to try an pass the entire increased cost of health care on workers whose families depend on it,” said Lou Villalvazo, Teamsters Local 630/Chief Negotiator.
Maria Elena Durazo, CA state senator also called out the disparity and greed, “Calling you essential workers doesn’t mean a thing if they don’t treat you like essential workers –and you absolutely deserve affordable health care.”
A strike would cause a major disruption in the food supply chain from San Diego to Santa Barbara and impact millions of Southern Californians customers just before the holidays when so many people are preparing food at home. The workers are asking the public to put pressure on the grocery employers to do the right thing and maintain their current health care costs. For more information, go to www.Healthyworkers-safefood.com to learn more or sign the petition.