Apr 16, 2012

UFCW Voices: Aaron Johnson

Every day in the media, and even here on the UFCW blog, we hear from national leaders like Barack Obama and Joe Hansen. We see the agenda of big business play out in op-eds and ad buys, and even hear from celebrity activists like Danny Glover and Tom Morello.

Aaron Johnson, a cashier at Martin's in Richmond, is
standing up for the right to stick together
But the voices that matter the most - and the voices we most need to hear - are really the voices of the ordinary people who make this country work and who are the driving force of this union.  So today we're proud to feature Aaron Johnson, a cashier at Martin's, a grocery chain in Richmond, Virginia. Aaron has been active in calling for fairness at his store and all Martin's stores.

Martin's, like several other grocery brands in the U.S., including Giant and Stop & Shop, is owned by Royal Ahold, a grocery conglomerate based in the Netherlands. Some 70,000 of Ahold's U.S. workers belong to a union, and the company has long touted it's commitment to workers' rights to European investors and regulators. Despite this, since acquiring the Richmond-based Martin's chain, Ahold has been fighting to keep the workers there from joining with their fellow U.S. employees in a union. Workers like Aaron have been fighting back against this double standard, and standing up for their right to stick together.

Here's what Aaron had to say recently on his experience at Martin's:

"I took the job at Martin’s  so I can buy necessities like milk and help my mother around the house. In the year that I’ve been employed at Martin’s, I have seen many things happening that do not seem right. I did not know much about unions when I started at Martin’s but after hearing about the union from others I was excited but I was afraid to attend a union meeting because of all the anti-union letters that Martin’s keeps sending out. Managers tell us lies like “the union just wants your money.” I know it’s not true because I had the chance to speak with Ahold workers from unionized stores and I know the benefits and wages that they have. I care about the people I work with and all I want is for us to have the same rights that other Ahold workers in the United States and Europe have. I can’t begin to understand why Martin’s doesn’t want to let that happen."
We all have a lot to learn from workers like Aaron, who are willing to take a stand for what's right, even in the face of intimidation from management. They are on the front lines of the battle to stop our country from becoming a corporatocracy of, by, and for the super-rich. Stay tuned to the UFCW blog for more features on the workers who keep our country going.

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