The Democratic establishment, and even much of the mainstream media, have in recent years embraced Walmart, an unlikely paramour. But revelations about Walmart recently published by the New York Times, which found evidence that the retailer’s largest foreign operation, Walmex, had paid more than $24 million in bribes to Mexican politicians who could grease the wheels of its expansion in Mexico, are providing an opportunity for the company’s critics to break up this ill-fated romance.
MEXICO CITY — In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.
Statement of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 President Rick Icaza:
Yesterday's front page story in the New York Times detailing Walmart's underhanded record of bribing its way into Mexico has direct parallels in Southern California.
Walmart will stop at nothing to get what it wants, and what it wants is entry into the Los Angeles market. In Mexico, they call them bribes. In Southern California, they are "donations" and "lobbying fees."
Rite Aid member Eric Gonzales and his sister, Ralphs member Monica Paz, are grateful to have their union benefits.
Four years ago Eric was an active 17 year old when he was diagnosed with a rare form of Kidney Disease. Doctors immediately started him on Dialysis three times a week for four hour sessions. His only chance of surviving was to get a kidney transplant, but his sister Monica could not stand by while he was put on a long kidney donor waiting list. That is when she decided to become his kidney donor. They had to go through a lot of tests and a very long process but it was worth it. On April 12, 2011 Eric got his new kidney.
Employees at LA Wonderland, a medical marijuana dispensary, recently agreed to join a union.
Brennan Thicke has struggled for years to keep his Los Angeles business open. Several months ago, he called a staff meeting to discuss what he thinks might be his last, best hope: starting an employee union.
"I told them, 'Here's the deal: This is an opportunity for you to save your jobs,'" Thicke recalled.
Rick Icaza, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, speaks at a news conference announcing that employees of Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries had formed a union. (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times / March 22, 2012)
With the fate of the city's medical marijuana industry in question, workers at more than a dozen Los Angeles pot shops have formed a labor union in part to help ward off a proposed citywide ban on dispensaries.
The Venice Beach Care Center is among more than 10 local medical marijuana dispensaries now represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 union.
The local arm of the nation's largest retail workers union announced Thursday that it has successfully unionized more than 100 hundred workers at Los Angeles-area medical marijuana dispensaries, including the Venice Beach Care Center.
Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770 in Los Angeles, talks with KPCC reporter Shirley Jahad following the announcement that medical marijuana dispensary workers are joining the United Food and Commercial Workers union, Thursday, March 22, 2012.
Some local medical marijuana workers are unionizing. The head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor says the union may help cut through the legal smoke surrounding the dispensaries.
Ever since the gas pipeline disaster in San Bruno, the Utility Workers at the Gas Company have been working tirelessly to make sure we never face such an accident in California. They worked to pass a safety bill, SB 705 that is on the Governor’s desk. They have taken action before the Public Utilities Commission. They have raised safety issues directly with the Gas Company at the bargaining table.
The Gas Company continues to reject the utility workers efforts to work cooperatively to insure the safety of our communities. Instead, the Gas Company’s response is to downgrade middle-class jobs.
Just like our recent battle with the grocery companies, the Gas Company is being greedy, Even though it is making billions in profits, the Gas Company wants to cut wages and benefits of the workers, just like us. UFCW Local 770 joined with Labor and community to rally in support of Gas Workers.
Last week, Walmart announced a plan to roll back health care coverage for part-time workers and raise premiums for full-time employees. As the world’s largest retail employer, this plan will lower standards for all American workers and have repercussions throughout the retail industry, particularly for part-time workers. Listed below are talking points that UFCW Locals can use to address this latest development:
● Retail jobs are the jobs of the future. In fact, retail is one of the only sectors of our economy that’s growing.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been growing and gaining momentum across the country and worldwide. This battle against corporate greed on behalf of the 99% of Americans who have been struggling economically is what our labor movement is all about.
L.A. Labor, along with the AFL-CIO and several international unions, has endorsed and is supporting this movement.
Tomorrow, October 15, is a Global Day of Action. Occupy L.A. is organizing a major march through the financial district in downtown Los Angeles to be followed by an afternoon rally at L.A. City Hall.
WHEN: Saturday, October 15, 11:00AM - Gather; 12:00PM - March; 1:00PM - Rally at L.A. City Hall WHERE: Meet at Pershing Square, 5th and Olive Streets, downtown Los Angeles
Earlier this month, grocery union workers made picket signs in preparation for a potential grocery strike in Los Angeles. Now, as a tentative labor deal has been reached, such signs aren't going to be needed. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers confirmed Monday that they had reached a three-year labor contract with Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons, averting a grocery strike that would have idled more than 54,000 workers across Southern California.
Employee Battiste Johnson, right, bags groceries for Sharon Weeks at Ralphs in Malibu in May 2010. Ralphs is one of the grocery chains owned by Kroger, which reported a 7.3% increase in second-quarter earnings. (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times / September 10, 2011)
Ralphs operator Kroger Co. said its second-quarter profit and sales rose, but the nation's largest grocery store operator said shoppers are feeling bleaker about the economy.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Alcohol Justice (formerly Marin Institute) is calling on California Governor Jerry Brown to quickly sign AB 183 to ban alcohol sales through self-serve checkout machines in California. The bill, authored by Assembly Member Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), passed through the state Senate last week on a vote of 21 to 16 with 3 abstentions.
On August 26, around 140 workers at Farmer John Food Service in Vernon, Calif. (Los Angeles) voted to stand together for a voice at work with Local 770. The workers at the plant, wholly owned by Hormel Foods, mostly make pre-cooked sausage and bacon.
“We needed a union because there was no respect in our workplace,” said Maria Alonzo, who works in the pre-cooked sausage department at Farmer John Food Service. “All of us that believed and wanted a union stood strongly together although the company tried to intimidate us.”
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southland grocery workers and union officials staged a rally Monday in another push for a new contract, stressing they do not want to go on strike, but they will if they don’t believe they are receiving fair labor offers from the owners of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons.