Teamsters who stopped making deliveries to three local grocery chains
in support of striking supermarket workers said they are trying to
preserve a way of life.
About 9,000 drivers, warehouse workers and clerks in Southern
California began striking earlier this week.
Dozens of truck drivers from Teamsters Local 630 have been
picketing outside a Ralphs distribution center on Edenhurst Avenue
along Glendale’s western border, and with striking grocery clerks
earlier this week, were able to turn away several black vans full of
Gathering around the vans and blocking their entrance onto the
warehouse lot, the picketers shouted and criticized the occupants
sitting behind tinted windows.
The site is the closest Ralphs distribution center to Burbank.
The Teamsters will not deliver groceries to Ralphs, Vons and
Albertsons markets until the companies and the supermarket union
reach an agreement.
“You haven’t seen anything like this for a long time, two
unrelated unions coming together,” Teamster shop steward Tim McGann
said. “If we give in, we’ll be working for Wal-Mart.”
McGann’s comments were directed at the nonunion retail giant,
which offers a wage and benefits package that is typically $10 an
hour less than unionized market chains, according to reports.
Health-care coverage is the main issue in the United Food and
Commercial Workers union’s conflict with Safeway Inc., which owns
Vons, as well as Albertsons Inc. and Ralphs owner Kroger Co.
With their contract expiring in two years, McGann and other
Teamsters said the companies will try to cut their benefits next if
they succeed in scaling back health benefits for grocery clerks.
“We’re not educated people. This is the only way we can make a
decent living,” McGann said. “If we don’t back [the grocery workers],
A Vons spokeswoman did not return a phone call for comment.
The show of solidarity from Teamsters bolstered the spirits of
striking supermarket workers, who have entered their seventh week of
“This is going to tighten the noose on the markets,” striker
Darren Brown said, as he picketed outside Vons on Buena Vista Street
Grocery strikers have been making less than $200 a week, paid for
from a union strike fund. Many have said that they will take extra
jobs if they need to, but they will continue to strike to maintain
their health benefits.
“It’s really tight now, I don’t know how much longer I can keep
sending my daughter money in Mexico,” said Myra Carrola, a clerk at
Vons on Pass Avenue in Burbank. Carrola’s daughter stays with her
Still, she will strike as long as she can, she said.