The battle for workers’ rights continues! Check out these recent wins by employees in the grocery and food service industry.
1. West Coast Workers Walk Out on the Heat — and Their Bosses!
Workers from California to Oregon walked out over unsafe conditions created by the historic heat wave barraging the West Coast. Jack in the Box employees who protested outside their franchisee location in Sacramento referenced temperatures reaching 109 degrees Fahrenheit, a broken AC unit, and a boss who blamed the heat on workers going through menopause.
Workers with Voodoo Doughnuts, who recently had a deadlocked NLRB election after organizing with the IWW, walked out on the job after reporting that the doughnuts were literally melting. It’s almost unthinkable that people are being forced to work in conditions such as these, but due to lax Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and weak labor laws, workers caught in the heat wave have been pushed to decide between their safety and their jobs.
2. New Jersey Bottle Workers at Refresco Unionize with UE
In what might be the largest blue-collar NLRB election win this year, 247 bottle workers at Refresco in Wharton, New Jersey, are now represented by United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE)! The campaign began over a year ago when workers walked out over unfair conditions, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to wreak havoc on food and beverage facilities across the country.
UE is one of the founding partners of EWOC, alongside the Democratic Socialists of America, and a longstanding rank-and-file union dedicated to serving the interests of its members first and foremost.
3. UFCW Organizes Grocery Workers in Vermont and Cannabis Workers in Illinois
Recently, 20 grocery workers at the Springfield Food Co-Op in Springfield, Vermont, voted to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1459. We previously reported on the efforts many UFCW locals have made to support local communities during the pandemic, including hosting local food drives and vaccination efforts.
On top of that, the UFCW is pushing to expand the scope of their retail organizing. On June, 25 cannabis workers at JDRC (a subsidiary of Cresco) in Champaign, Illinois, voted 21-4 to join UFCW Local 881, continuing a string of organizing victories in this emerging sector.
4. Dairy Workers in Puerto Rico Display Incredible Solidarity with Unanimous Union Vote
In a recent union vote, 151 workers at Suiza Dairy Corporation in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, voted 112-0 to join the Confederación General de Trabajadores (CGT). That level of unity amongst workers is almost unheard of stateside. It’s important to recognize the continued efforts of our union brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, who led a successful strike against the Swiss Dairy company earlier in the month, and point out how little media attention they and the island as a whole receives.
5. California Teamsters Triumph Against Beverage Giant Keurig Dr Pepper
230 warehouse and production workers for Keurig Dr Pepper in Victorville, California, have unionized with Teamsters Local 896! The win comes on the heels of organizing efforts in March of 2020, when Teamsters Local 727 sent a letter urging the company to ensure safe working conditions, and earlier this year when Teamsters Local 337 staged a three-week strike.
Keurig Dr Pepper, a product of the 2018 marriage of the espresso-pod producer and iconic soda maker, had subjected its workforce to both a significant restructuring and anti-union tactics from management. The fact that worker power prevailed against one of the biggest beverage companies in the world makes the win all the sweeter.
6. Essential and Frontline Retail Workers Are Starting to Receive American Rescue Plan Funds
Oxnard, California, became the first city to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan to provide essential workers with “COVID premium pay,” setting aside $2.5 million for this purpose. Calabasas, California, soon followed, and there are more to come as federal funds continue to make their way to the county and local levels.
As we all know, grocery and food workers across the country have put their lives on the line for more than a year to keep shelves stocked and meat-production facilities running. Some companies refused to step in and support these essential workers entirely. Others offered temporary pay increases and personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 fringe benefits which have since been rescinded. Hopefully, more and more cities will do the right thing and set aside substantial portions of their American Rescue Plan funds toward compensation for essential workers.
Let’s Keep Up the Winning Streak
Sign our new petition demanding more protection for Whole Foods workers!
Workers are winning across the country. If you are interested in organizing your workplace to securing better working conditions, as well as higher compensation and other benefits for yourself and your fellow workers, please reach out to us today.