Giant and Safeway shop stewards are standing strong in Solidarity as the October 31, 2013, expiration of their current collective bargaining agreement approaches.
Attending a stewards seminar Friday October 25, they gathered to make preparations for a potential impasse, to receive an update on how negotiations are going, and reiterate their determination to stay united throughout this process.
“We need to stand shoulder to shoulder, arms locked together,” said Michele Hepner, bargaining committee member and Giant #243 member. “We need to roll up our sleeves and prepare to get our hands dirty, because we need to be ready for battle.”
“As we saw what the first proposals were of the companies, they don’t respect us,” said Lester Price, bargaining committee member and meat cutter at Giant #147. “Giant and Safeway want to take more and more from us, we have to want even more!”
Local 400 President Mark Federici gave the stewards an overview of how bargaining with the companies has been going and the proposals that are on the table. He emphasized the importance of Local 400 members standing strong and sticking together to show the companies that there will be no going backwards.
“The strength of the union is each one of you all and each of your coworkers back at your stores,” said Federici.
Local 400 contract specialist Jim Slivosky echoed Federici’s comments, saying, “We’re going to turn over every rock to make sure you’re getting everything you deserve, but you have to keep standing together and not allow the company to pick you all apart.”
Seminar attendees also discussed the importance of community support in achieving success at the bargaining table, inviting Reverend Dr. Kendrick E. Curry, Senior Pastor at Pennsylvania Ave. Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., to speak to them. Rev. Curry gave an electrifying speech that got the stewards up on their feet and energized to go out into their stores, talk with customers about their contracts, and mobilize their co-workers to stand strong until a fair collective bargaining agreement is reached.
“You are the ones the helped these companies achieve their dreams,” said Rev. Curry. “It’s time for them to help you achieve yours!”
For the past few weeks, Giant and Safeway stewards and members held actions to garner community support and shopper solidarity. Local 400 members who are sitting at the bargaining table testified that these community actions are proving powerful and getting management’s attention.
Immediately following the seminar, groups of stewards took action by going to the stores near their home areas, talking with customers, and asking them to sign support cards to hand to the manager on duty. After two hours and 15 stores, over 2,000 support cards were turned in by customers to management in stores across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
“We have to stand strong, the customers care about you, you are the company to them,” said Federici. “We’ve got to get to work!”
For more photos of the actions and shop steward seminar check out our Facebook page!