Photo by Bill Burke

Activist Contract Team Mobilizing Members in Preparation for Bargaining

Giant and Safeway shop stewards attended their second seminar Tuesday, September 27 to discuss the upcoming round of bargaining in the spring of 2012. There, 248 stewards pledged to mobilize members by joining Local 400’s new Activist Contract Team (ACT!).

ACT! will work with our shop stewards in support of upcoming negotiations with Giant and Safeway grocery workers. ACT! volunteers will act as communication links with co-workers, help organize members for Solidarity actions, take on special direct action assignments to bring the companies to terms and transform into strike captains if a work stoppage becomes necessary.

At the seminar, held at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD, stewards heard presentations on Ahold’s attacks on Virginia workers through its non-union Martin’s banner, the new contract won by Southern California grocery workers, the battle to protect members’ benefits, and the truth about Giant and Safeway’s finances.

Among the many speakers, stewards heard from:

** Local 400’s Director of Growth Strategies, Wendy Weiner, discussed the great divide that Ahold has placed on its workers here in the United States by recognizing the rights of some employees, like those of Giant of Landover, while denying those same rights to others, such as those Martin’s workers in Richmond, Va. Don Gathers, a Martin’s worker, shared the roadblocks that Martin’s workers in Richmond face from management as they continue the fight for union representation.

** UFCW International Executive Assistant in the Collective Bargaining Department, Milton Jones, informed the stewards as someone that was on the ground in California as grocery workers fought for a fair contract. Since the seminar, the California grocery workers have ratified a contract agreement with their employers.

** Three Local 400 members offered inspirational words on why they joined ACT! and why this contract is important to fight for now, more than ever.

** Esther Diller from First Choice Mortgage took the podium to discuss refinancing in this down economy.

** Robert Ades from Ades & Associates, Local 400’s legal fund, gave a brief speech of the services that his firm offers to solely members of labor unions.

This stewards seminar was the second in a series of sessions designed to ensure that Local 400 members working at Giant and Safeway are fully prepared, empowered and engaged as bargaining approaches to fight together for their economic standing, their rights and their careers.