Grocery Picket Lines Take a Toll on Gifts to the Salvation Army

Times Staff Writer

The Salvation Army is predicting a loss of more than half a million dollars in its red kettle fund-raising campaign because potential donors refuse to cross picket lines at grocery stores, which are the primary sites for donations, officials said Friday.

But the venerable charity hopes to make up the deficit by asking other businesses to allow kettles to be placed in front of their stores and urging individual donors to give through its Web site or toll-free phone number.

Since the kettles were distributed across Southern California last weekend, Salvation Army officials said there has been a sharp decline in money collected at Vons and Albertson's supermarkets, where union workers have been idle since mid-October.

"When we add up the donations normally solicited from these stores

"This staggering figure doesn't include losses from Ralphs stores, which will occur if the picketing is brought back there," he added.

In San Diego, the combination of the supermarket strike and wildfires has put a tremendous strain on the charity's resources, the organization's Lt. Cmdr. Douglas O'Brien said.

"We are struggling financially," O'Brien said Friday.

"It is a challenge for us to find sufficient resources in order for us to manage our programs. When we get hit with something like this, it really knocks our feet out from under us."

Salvation Army officials are quick to point out that the 70,000 United Food and Commercial Workers union members are not preventing the agency's holiday kettle program from operating.

"There just aren't that many people coming into the stores and that's what's affecting the income," said Carla L. Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army of Southern California.

Money raised through the holiday kettle campaign helps pay for year-round outreach programs, including food distribution, emergency shelter, financial assistance, disaster relief and other social service programs, Jackson said.

"We need financial donations to serve at least the same amount of people we served last year," Jackson said.

"We don't want to cut back on anything."

Individual donors are encouraged to make donations through the Web site at or by calling toll-free at (800) SAL-ARMY.


On February 12, 2004 the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which had stated repeatedly that 70,000 workers were involved in the supermarket labor dispute in Central and Southern California, said that the number of people on strike or locked out was actually 59,000. A union spokeswoman, Barbara Maynard, said that 70,000 UFCW members were, in fact, covered by the labor contract with supermarkets that expired last year. But 11,000 of them worked for Stater Bros. Holdings Inc., Arden Group Inc.'s Gelson's and other regional grocery companies and were still on the job. (See: "UFCW Revises Number of Workers in Labor Dispute," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2004, Business C-11)

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