The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Grocery stores workers under attack in Michigan and Ohio

Jan 5, 2004

Right before Christmas, 10,000 workers with the Farmer Jack’s grocery store chain based in Michigan and Ohio were given an ultimatum by their union: accept immediate cuts in pay of 5%, plus cuts in vacation and personal time – OR Farmer Jacks could close all of its 106 stores. IF you accept the cuts, then the company will close only 30 stores! IF you accept the cuts, and you lose your job when the 30 some stores are closed, some of you may be rehired – at newer, lower-priced Food Basic stores, of course.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 76 consistently took the stance that Farmer Jack’s must remain afloat against its competitors – namely Kroger and Meijers, and Wal-Mart. The union pushed for immediate wage and benefit cuts. It insisted that “it is imperative that some stores be closed.”

Farmer Jacks’s is not a local little chain. It is owned by A&P, which includes 643 stores in the U.S and Canada. This giant company wants to be able to pay its workers less in benefits and wages – just like the giant Kroger does in many of its subsidiaries. Just like what the giants of Meijers and Wal-Mart are doing.

If workers voted for this contract, they undoubtedly saw no other choice – given that the leaders of their own union were busy at work assisting the giant companies to maintain their profits while pitting workers against each other.

All the more reason for workers to push to change the “partnership” policies of their own unions.