May 30, 2012

UFCW Voices: Doreen Martinez

UFCW members like Doreen Martinez know the importance of sticking together to improve their jobs. Doreen is a UFCW Local 5 member who works at Nob Hill, a gourmet grocery store in Northern California that belongs to the Raley's family. Recently, Doreen and her fellow union workers have been getting involved with their union, UFCW locals, and helping coordinate strike meetings vote meetings, in which members attended in large numbers and authorized the union's bargaining committee to call a strike.

UFCW Local 5 member rally for a fair contract
Negotiations are now underway with Raley's-Nob Hill. Doreen and many others are concerned about the proposed contract so far.  Here's what Doreen had to say recently about her experiences at Nob Hill:
What we are being offered, we don't accept it. We don't want our healthcare cut...they want to do cut backs. They have cut our hours so far back that the work is never done. I've been seeing reduced hours as a full time clerk for four years now, and it’s sad when you're a full time clerk and you can't even pay your bills. You just kind of have to shuffle 'em around.  And its stressful because we work hard, and we feel like we're nothing when we are being treated like this.
Doreen, who works with both of her daughters and her sister-in-law in the same store, and a sister-in-law and brother-in-law at another location, knows that all of the company's employees are "in this together".  To get her fellow workers to stick together, Doreen gives out a pledge card whenever she can, to anyone that will sign it, to get votes for unionization.  She also notes that they have the store's customers' support, "one-hundred percent.”

Doreen remembers one comment in particular from a loyal customer that supports the workers: "Doreen, I can buy bread anywhere, but I come to you for it."

Alerting every clerk about each meeting, providing carpools, getting involved with UFCW's special projects programs, and staying strong are just a few of the things Doreen does to help them stick together.  "Staying strong" is important since many Doreen works with are scared to strike.
"No, I don't want to strike," she says, "I can't afford to.  But if we have to we have to- to get a fair contract! You have to be in the store to do your job, be pleasant, not be stressed, but you also have to fight for your rights.  I stepped up big-time when this started happening, because it’s not fair to us if we keep pulling back. Before, I used to be really quiet about these things, but you don't get anywhere being quiet."
With the strike vote, Doreen and countless others like her have shown that they are not afraid to stick together and stand up for what's right.

We all have a lot to learn from workers like Doreen, who are willing to take a stand for what's right, even in the face hardship. Stay tuned to the UFCW blog for more features on the workers who keep our country going.


Steve said...

I was at the rally that you posted on your blog. Workers are united, strong and determined to fight for a fair contract. Thanks for sharing Doreen's story! We appreciate the spotlight.

Anonymous said...

Hardship is a reality when faced with such a decision to vote to strike. I went through the NorCal strike of 9 days back in 1994. It is not fun but is necessary to inform the loyal customers to honor the position of union workers because realized or not, unionized labor has a huge impact on all aspects of non- unionized working people.