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UFCW: A Pimp and an El Dorado

Written by Sharyn Sigurdur Sunday, 11 March 2007

It's not rocket science (remind me to thank whomever said that) - but - what isn't tacked down in a labour contract (any contract for that matter) is as crucial, if not more so, than what is tacked down. And that's about where the recently ratified Stater Bros' retail agreement comes into the picture. That it went down with nary_a_labour_ripple in a supposedly poisoned labour environment is another story for another day. It's the events which follow that are so intriguing, well not exactly intriguing, more like transparent.

That Strater Bros Grocery is a regional grocery chain, employing 16,000 UFCW represented retail workers (approx. 23 percent) and has traditionally been a me too employer are all important distinctions. The Stater Bros' ritual has been to sit by quietly while the national chains do the dirty and then reap the rich profits. No surprise there, reap is what corporations do best. The surprise is that in this round, Stater Bros took the retail bargaining lead, ratifying the first 2007 retail agreement and as previously mentioned, it all went down with nary a ripple.

And contrary to UFCW horsepucky floating about, minor improvements to a previously gutted contract doesn't automatically make it a great one, a livable one and certainly not a great victory. It simply makes it a contract with minor improvements. There's no need to scrape all the lipstick off the pig here - wage and benefit improvements - minor or otherwise - don't mean dickshit if people can't qualify for them. That gaping hole in the Stater agreement (Article 5 (A)(2) and (3)) and - the more than likely event the remaining members see though it and make a whole bunch of noise before the rest can be inked, may be the reason UFCW has shifted into turbo-pimp - hiring the services of San Diego's multi-millionaire mouthpiece - Ted (no-pants) Leitner - to lead this leg of the procession

Let me cut right to the chase. After all the UFCW hoopla and money spent bringing communities on side, where do you think that support will fall with no-pants Leitner in the forefront singing "praise be to the nice retail employer" - and should the remaining 54,000 UFCW represented grocery workers choose to reject a Stater-like agreement and vote to strike the bulk of Californias' retail goliaths? Help me out here. Where's the respect in pre-determined outcomes in which workers are undermined, manipulated and robbed of their own free choice?

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