DC Council member Jack Evans addressing the crowd at the O St Giant grand opening. Photo by Bill Burke/Page one.

From Union City—Political and community leaders joined an informational picket by Giant and Safeway workers in front of Giant’s grand opening at 8th and O Street NW Thursday night. DC Council members Tommy Wells and Jack Evans, as well as Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth Congregational Church were among those showing their support for the grocery workers who voted last week to authorize the leadership of their union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400 (UFCW Local 400) to call a strike if the companies refuse to negotiate a fair contract.

The new Giant is in Wells’ district and he went in with a delegation to deliver petitions signed by community residents supporting the workers, telling store management “it’s time for Giant to settle a contract with its workers.”

The big issue on the table is health care because of the new Affordable Care Act. In contract negotiations across the country, companies have tried to eliminate health care for part-time workers, retirees and spouses.

“We are refusing to go backward,” said Vivian Siguion, Bargaining Advisory Committee member who works at Safeway #1431. “We’ve worked this hard to earn the benefits we have and for the companies to propose to eliminate them feels like a slap in the face to the 29 years I’ve put in to this company.”

Giant and Safeway workers have leafleted stores and gathered thousands of shoppers’ pledges, participated in flash mobs, and have turned in their own pledge cards stating that they will do “whatever it takes for a fair contract.” Other unions like the Teamsters, who work at Giant’s warehouse in Jessup, Md. have supported the retail workers by wea – See more at: http://www.dclabor.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/112896#sthash.A0hGpGgY.dpuf