I’m going to start off by asking you all a few simple questions. Do you know what UFCW is? What if I told you they were a union, would you know who they represent?
There was a time where solidarity amongst unions was so strong that only a small minority of people would not know the answers to those questions. While leadership amongst unions likely know or at least have an idea of how to answer these questions I doubt many unionized workers outside of UFCW do. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 in Edmonton represents workers at Safeway and Superstore (among many more) in the capital region. Their Safeway contract expired over a year ago, and their contract with Superstore expires later this year.
A basic tenet of the labour movement has always been one of solidarity, that an injury to one is an injury to all. Not only are we stronger when we work together as individuals to join a union, but as unions we are stronger when we work together against our employers. It is because of this fact that many major unions joined networks of Labour Councils so they could work together and offer their support in each other’s campaigns, as well as lobby various levels of Government to enact worker friendly legislation. When we exercise this power we all benefit and this is where you come in.
What can you do to help? Well firstly and most simply do what you can to get your groceries at either Safeway or Superstore and to encourage others to do the same. Doing this will show that you value good paying jobs where workers have rights that are negotiated and protected by their union. Secondly, if UFCW Local 401 gets to a point where their members believe there is a need to strike to get the contract they deserve, you immediately boycott locations being struck and tell your friends and family why they should do the same. Pretty simple right? Of course, if you want to be a true ally you would join me on their picket line where I am sure we will be welcomed with open arms!
In the end we all benefit when unions negotiate strong contracts, it helps us bargain from their benchmark when we get to our own negotiations. If as a group we support each other whenever and however we can our employers will think twice before they try to bully us into accepting unjust contracts.
When engaging in solidarity shopping, please consider shopping at the following unionized grocery stores in the Edmonton area:
Buying your groceries anywhere else will only help make the rich richer and hurt Edmonton's labour movement. It’s time we don’t just speak solidarity but act it! Remember, an injury to one is an injury to all!
President Edmonton & District Labour Council
P.S. You can also go to their website to learn more about working class struggle and even win $250 in free groceries every week!