Apr 23, 2010

Shaw's strike nears two-month mark: company refuses to bargain, seeks permanent replacement workers

On March 7, 300 workers and UFCW Local 791 members at the Supervalu-owned Shaw's distribution center in Methuen, Mass. were forced out on strike in order to protect their job security and their families' affordable health care.

Workers rejected a contract that would have forced them to shoulder skyrocketing health insurance costs. The company is also seeking to subcontract offloading work to part-time, temporary workers -- a change that would lead to a reduction in good-paying, stable jobs.

These workers, many of whom have served Shaw's (a grocery chained owned by the Minnesota-based company Supervalu) for decades, took a stand for their families and for good jobs in their community.

On April 1, Shaw's cut off health benefits for the workers and their families, including young children with chronic illnesses and women with risky, late-stage pregnancies. Shaw's (under the guidance of Supervalu) refuses to come back to the bargaining table, and insists that any possible future deal will be worse than the one workers rejected in the first place. The company remains obstinate, even as respected religious, political, labor, and community leaders urge them to restore workers' health benefits and come to a quick and fair resolution. They even ignored Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's offer to supply a mediator.

Now, as the strike hits the two month mark, the company is advertising for and hiring permanent replacements to try to break the strike, something this historically union-friendly company hasn't done before. This is a bad precedent to set, especially for a company with over 97,000 employees who union members (Supervalu also owns Shaw's, Acme, Albertsons, Bristol Farms, Shoppers.... the list goes on). If it can happen in Methuen, it can happen anywhere.

So what can you do to show your support for these workers and show Supervalu that Methuen matters ?

  • Call Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert (former President and CEO of the Americas for Walmart) at (952) 828-4000 and tell him that workers in Methuen deserve to be treated fairly.
  • Visit http://www.justiceatshaws.org and send a letter to the company's top brass to let them know you are outraged by their treatment of the Methuen workers and to urge them to come back to the table.
  • Log onto facebook and "like" the We Support the Shaws Methuen Distribution Center page, created and maintained by the striking workers.
  • Spread the word! Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, and elected officials about what's going on in Methuen, and at Supervalu's corporate headquarters in Minnesota.
Let's show our solidarity and send a message loud and clear to Supervalu - Methuen matters!

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