We did it! Because we stood together, we got a fair contract. Read more.

What We Won

Because we stood together through hundreds of actions over months of negotiations, we won a fair contract that is a big step forward in our goal of creating good, career jobs in a changing grocery industry.

This contract is the most significant wage and benefit increase in over 30 years.

Not only did we win good wages and retroactive pay to March 2019, we also:

  • Stopped Big Grocery’s plan to reduce pay
  • Stopped Big Grocery’s plan to eliminate unused sick leave payout
  • Started closing the gap between General Merchandise Clerks and Food Clerks
  • Secured and improved our health care 
  • Protected the full funding of our pensions
  • Increased minimum hours
  • Increased vacation
  • Created a “Future of Work” committee to guarantee worker voices are part of the future of grocery jobs

As important as what is in the contract, is how we got there:

  • By organizing store by store for the respect and recognition we earn every day
  • The support of the public and customers, tens or thousands of whom pledged their support
  • The communities in which we work, who recognize us as crucial to their health and well being

We owe a big thanks not just to members, but to the public, fellow unions, and working families.

After 80 years of standing strong, we didn’t back down, and we’re prepared to fight even harder the next round.

By standing united, we showed Big Grocery that we are a force to be reckoned with.
When we stand together. We win.

We got this.

John Grant                                                    Kathy Finn
President, UFCW Local 770                         Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW Local 770

The Victory Is Yours

They heard us loud and clear. And we were successful in getting a deal that will make our lives better.

It’s pretty simple: When we stand up for ourselves, we get respect. And we get a contract that respects our hard work. You did this. This victory is yours.

It is big a step forward towards our vision of what grocery jobs should be in the future.

Specific details of the deal will be available for grocery members at meetings starting tomorrow. Find your meeting here.

Here’s what it took to get there:

– More than 40 bargaining sessions
– Hundreds of members and allies standing together throughout Southern California
– Tens of thousands of consumers pledging their support via online petitions and text messages

We showed the corporate executives the relationships we have with our customers and the impact we have in our stores and communities.

And know that when we stand together we win.

I’m proud of our work together,

John Grant
President, UFCW Local 770

The Meaning of Labor Day

What does this Labor Day mean for working folks?

Really, not a damn thing, other than you can buy a mattress for 30% off and can no longer wear white.

This holiday originated with craft unions calling for a day to honor working men and women in 1882.  But it wasn’t an official day off or holiday – workers originally had to strike to celebrate it. That’s right.  To get a day off to honor our work, we had to go on strike. Labor Day was made an official holiday only as a sap to workers after federal troops murdered two strikers and broke the Pullman Workers union in 1894, forcing them to sign pledges never to unionize again.

So, in fact, Labor Day was instituted as a celebration of the victory of big business over Labor.

But it didn’t defeat solidarity or the will of working people to fight for better pay, better workplaces, and more democracy where they work and where they live.

This is where the lessons of the past inform the challenges of the present. This is where we can look to the perseverance and ultimate success of labor in the United States as a path forward today.

Strikes and withholding our labor was how we won back then, it’s how we conversed when management wouldn’t talk, and it’s how we settled grievances.  If there was an unjust firing or work rule change, we struck. We just said no, and reaffirmed that our labor and our work was our part of the bargain.  We understood that as workers we are not children. Striking was our way of saying: “we won’t and don’t have to obey you. You are not listening to us and treating us as equals.  Let us show you what equal looks like.”

Over time, corporations wised up and understood that workers and OUR labor was valuable and crucial to their business and success. We all agreed good jobs were crucial to the success of business and our economy.

But something happened on the way to the 21st century.   Companies didn’t cut that deal with us anymore. They just cut us.  Corporations’ attacks on Unions reduced the right to associate in a Union by more than 50% in the last 40 years (we are at about 11%).  And as a result, the overall level of inequality is at or near the worst it’s ever been. Over 43% of American workers are either poor or low income.

These corporations have no heart, no god, no flag. Their promises mean nothing and their actions benefit only themselves.

So I say: this isn’t a holiday to celebrate.  It is a call to arms and a day to reaffirm our commitment to the fight for justice, respect, and fair treatment.

In solidarity,
John Grant
President | UFCW 770

News: Could a California Grocery Worker Strike Spur a Nationwide Movement?

This post originally appeared on CivilEats.com

When Sharon Hechler started working in Arcadia, California as a cashier for the supermarket chain Albertsons 46 years ago, she never intended to make it her lifelong career.

“Then, I found out I loved it,” she told Civil Eats. “Once upon a time, it was a great job. We had some of the best pay, the best benefits. So, I thought I was set for life.”

That shifted when the variety of grocery store chains in Southern California “kept gobbling each other up,” Hechler said. “Now, there’s like two major companies, and they’re setting the tone for the consumer and the worker, and greed has set in.”

Hechler says that she can’t remember the last time she received a pay raise and that many of her colleagues have fared far worse than she has.

“The [people] I work with they are counting out their pennies to buy a pound of hamburger, and I see them working every day,” she said. “It’s not fair.”

On August 1, Hechler was one of a few dozen grocery store workers picketing outside a Ralphs in Pasadena, with signs that read, “put people over profits” and “fighting to defend quality jobs.” Workers have been picketing outside Southern California grocery stores since United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) locals voted in June to authorize a strike against the Albertsons—which also ownsSafeway, Vons, Pavilions, and 16 other retail chains—and Ralphs, the largest subsidiary of Kroger (which also owns 15 other retail chains).

If a strike does take place, it would be the first time in 15 years that Southern California grocery store employees took part in a work stoppage. A mass action this fall could yield powerful results for grocery store workers, since their counterparts in Oregon and Washington are also mobilizing. On August 24, UFCW Local 555, which represents Oregon and part of Washington, voted to authorize a strike against Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Safeway. Instead of a work stoppage relegated to one region, grocery stores could strike up and down the West Coast, paving the way for a national movement akin to the fast-food workers’ Fight for $15.

The UFCW locals in Southern California voted to authorize a strike after grocery store workers were offered less than a 1 percent salary increase, a particularly paltry sum in one of the country’s most expensive regions, especially considering Albertsons reported making $5.2 billion in profit on $18.7 billion in sales in its latest quarterly earnings report. In Los Angeles, the median annual income is $54,501, but the median annual income for a food and beverage store cashier in the U.S. is just $23,780.

Since March, the grocery store workers have been negotiating for higher pay and to keep their existing health benefits, but after 26 bargaining meetings, they have yet to agree on a new contract with their employers. On August 26, UFCW 770 in Los Angeles issued a statement notifying its membership that all Southern California locals will hold meetings September 9 “to vote to accept or reject the employers’ final offer.” The local said that it has also filed “unfair labor practice charges” against Ralphs and Albertsons for reportedly prohibiting workers from participating in union activity outside stores.

Ralphs did not respond to Civil Eats’ request for comment about the negotiations, but Albertsons sent the following statement: “Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions remain committed to reaching an agreement that will provide our employees with a competitive compensation package that includes good wages, maintains their affordable health care, and provides for their retirement while, at the same time, continuing to keep our company competitive in the Southern California market.”

Kathy Finn, the secretary-treasurer of UFCW 770 in Los Angeles, said that the picketing and strike authorizations taking place throughout the West Coast this summer are part of a strategic effort. Still, workers are losing patience as the grocery store chains have resisted meeting the UFCW’s terms related to pay, benefits, hours, and scheduling.

“There have been more than enough negotiations to have gotten this done,” Finn said. “The companies are stalling because it’s in their best interest to stall, to save money by stalling. But our workers have been falling farther and farther behind. Housing is very expensive; the cost of living has gone up faster than the wages. Everyone needs to get a fair wage increase.”

The Struggles of Grocery Store Workers

Mary Müeller-Reiche has worked for Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, for 12 years. She started out at Kroger stores in West Virginia and Ohio and is now a cashier and sales manager for Ralphs in Los Angeles. Despite her years of experience, the 33-year-old has little to show for it.

“My husband and I have extra roommates to afford the rent,” she said. “We’re not making enough to have our own place.”

Müeller-Reiche said that she would like to be able to afford her own apartment and start a family, but that’s difficult to do on the wages she earns. While she declined to share her salary with Civil Eats, she said “it could be better” as she stood outside a picket line earlier this month at a Pasadena Ralphs.

“There’s people who work very, very hard, and they’re just not getting the pay that they deserve [for the work] that they’re putting into the position,” Müeller-Reiche added.

She pointed out that it can take several years before workers get annual pay raises. Before then, raises are based on hours worked and given incrementally rather than annually.

“It’s a march of the dimes—we like to call it,” Müeller-Reiche said. “Every so often, you get a dime increase, and that really, really doesn’t do much of anything. Maybe we might get a pizza party now and then, but pizza doesn’t pay the rent.”

In the early 2000s, wages for grocery store workers began to decline. In 2010, according to a 2014 report from the Food Labor Research Center (FLRC) at the University of California, Berkeley, the median hourly wage for food retail workers was just $11.33, a drop of $1.64 from roughly a decade earlier. Low wages have led to these workers experiencing twice the level of food insecurity as the general public.

Jessica Bartholow, a policy advocate for the Western Center on Law and Povertyand a former grocery store employee, said food retail workers in California are in an unfortunate predicament; as of 2014, 36 percent relied on public assistance at an annual cost to the state of $662 million.

“Grocery store workers make up one of the biggest groups of workers in California’s economy,” Bartholow said. “When they’re paid low [wages], the state feels the impact. I worked as a bagger, and we didn’t have a lot of money. It’s really hard seeing food come to your line and not being able to purchase [it].”

The FLRC report placed much of the blame for the plight grocery store workers face on the rise of general merchandise retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Costco. Competition from such stores has led unionized supermarket chains to compete with Walmart’s low-price/low-wage model, the researchers contended.

“[Grocery store] workers used to get decent healthcare and wage increases, but the competition from these non-union segments are chipping away at the things we took for granted,” said Saru Jayaraman, director of the FLRC. “Strikes are still the only way that these workers have to demonstrate their power.”

The popularity of “natural” and gourmet food chains have also placed additional pressure on grocery store chains, but this hasn’t stopped traditional supermarkets such as Albertsons from seeing rising revenues.

“These corporations are making so much money; they just don’t want to share,” Albertsons checker Sharon Hechler said. “It’s just not right.”

And workers who attempt to supplement their income by getting a second or third job run into challenges because of scheduling issues. According to UFCW 770’s Finn, workers know their schedules about a week in advance, but because they change from week to week, the supplemental jobs they take on must also be flexible. Irregular schedules also make it hard for parents who work in grocery stores to coordinate childcare.

“It’s very much a gender issue since childcare disproportionately falls on women,” said Stephanie Seguino, a University of Vermont professor of economics. “In low-quality jobs, people don’t have autonomy over their work schedule. It’s really a serious issue with many parallels to the fast-food workers.”

The Benefits of Improving Working Conditions

Paying workers more isn’t likely to hurt grocery stores. In fact, it may help them. Retailers such as Costco, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s pay workers some of the industry’s highest wages and continue to see market growth and rising revenues. Additionally, paying workers more has been shown to cut down on turnover, which causes companies to lose money as they pay to replace former employees and train their replacements. Grocery store employees stay in their jobs for an average of 1.75 years, the FLRC study found, but those earning a living wage remained for a median of 5.5 years.

Workers who have more control of their schedule also have more success pursuing higher education and certification, which benefits their employers, Bartholow said.

“You want to have people who stay in the industry for a long time, who know food safety and safe-handling practices,” she said. “Public safety depends on them. Also, there are a lot of rules with regards to credit cards and public benefits programs and payments that cashiers have to follow. We want to make sure this information is being appropriately handled and that grocery store workers are well trained.”

Strikes themselves are costly for companies. The four-month grocery store worker strike that occurred in 2003 led to a total loss of revenue of $1.5 billion, for instance. Employees suffered during and after the work stoppage too. Some workers and consumers crossed picket lines, and wages fell afterward, which Jayaraman attributes more to marketplace changes than to the strike itself.

If workers decide to strike this year, she hopes consumers will support them in the same way they did other striking workers, such as California’s teachers.

“Sometimes, as consumers, we see some workers as deserving and professional and other workers as an inconvenience. But everybody’s trying to earn enough to feed their family,” Jayaraman said.

Finn said that consumers can start by letting store managers at the affected chains know that they are regular shoppers who will no longer patronize the store should a strike occur. Customers have more influence than workers do, she added.

For that reason, workers also want consumers to understand how difficult their jobs are. Müeller-Reiche said that because she spends eight hours on her feet each day, she often wakes up aching from the previous day’s shift.

“Every morning, it takes a while to get my feet used to walking again because they’re just so sore,” she said. “There are back injuries all the time. Our arms are sore. There’s a lot of heavy, repetitive lifting, especially cashiering.”

Hechler added that most grocery store employees must be available to work year-round, including weekends and major holidays. Sometimes, she begins her shift at 5 a.m. and other times she works until midnight.

“It is very, very difficult to work in this business,” she said. “We sacrifice a lot. All we want to do is to make a fair wage, a living wage, to support ourselves.”

Cause & Effect

In the last few months, we’ve seen the power of workers in action. In response to the insulting offers of corporate negotiators:

  • 96% of UFCW members in Southern California voted for a strike and economic action authorization.
  • Hundreds of members, allies, and community supporters rallied with us in solidarity from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles.
  • Nearly 10,000 consumers have signed a pledge to support grocery workers.

In response:

  • Corporate negotiators dropped their plan to reduce checker pay 25%.
  • Corporate negotiators dropped their plan to eliminate unused sick leave payout.

Big Grocery is beginning to understand just how strong we are when we stand united and fight for what is ours, but the road ahead is long, and we’ve got miles to go.

What we’ve seen, and what workers around the world know is a simple illustration of cause and effect. When we fight, we win. We’re in this for the long haul, because we won’t settle for anything less than what we deserve. A fair contract that recognizes your hard work.

We’re returning to the bargaining table again July 30 — August 1, and we need to show corporate that our strength and support are only growing.

Stand together with your brothers and sisters to show big grocery that we mean business. Join us for actions in Studio City, Los Angeles, Camarillo, and Pasadena to demand a fair contract for grocery workers.

In solidarity,

John Grant
President, UFCW 770

Happy 4th of July from President John Grant

The Fourth of July is a celebration of our freedom, but even more so, it is a celebration of our right to govern ourselves.

This is meaningful to us because as members of a union, we have banded together to make our voices heard to protect ourselves from the injustices of a hostile workplace and to assert our rights to respect, dignity, and democracy.

Just last week we saw this democracy in action, as members of our grocery division turned out in record numbers to reject the insulting offer from grocery corporations.

Just a few months ago, we saw this democracy in action as the workers at Farmer John voted to approve the first company-wide contract in more than 30 years, and then came together to demand better working conditions.

And we see it almost weekly now as new members in our cannabis division approve contracts and begin the process of setting the standard for democracy in that industry.

On this Fourth of July, we celebrate the courage of our founders, but also recognize that the fight for independence, democracy, and respect is ongoing.

And we are on the front lines of that fight.

Have a wonderful holiday.

In solidarity,

John M. Grant
President, UFCW 770

Telephone Town Hall – June 6, 2019

Did you miss the call? 

On Thursday, June 6th at 7 PM, we came together with our union brothers and sisters for our General Membership Telephone Town Hall. We heard urgent updates from the negotiating table and talked about what’s important to you and your Union.

If you weren’t able to tune in for the Telephone Town Hall last week, you have the chance to catch up on what we discussed as a union.

Listen to the full recording of the call below to stay informed: 


This is How We Win

770 Members:

We’ve just wrapped up another round of negotiations. While corporate negotiators failed to make a fair wage and health benefits offer, our members have been raising their voices where it matters most: at their stores.

Our 770 Delegation teams at Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, and other UFCW grocery stores across Southern California have been stepping up to make sure our values are heard by store managers and corporations. Their work is a reminder of who we’re fighting for, and why we’ll win.

Every day, we’re fighting for:
  • Family-Sustaining Fair Wages
  • More, Flexible Hours
  • Health and Retirement Security
  • Job Security in Changing Times
  • Democracy in Our Workplace
  • Better Neighborhood Grocery Stores

This is how we win – by raising our voices together, taking ownership of our union and our stores, and demanding to be recognized as worthy of what we’ve earned.

I am so inspired by these petition delegations all across UFCW 770. To approach management and corporate fearlessly and relentlessly is to be #UnionStrong.

Stand with us and share our pictures.






We got this,

John Grant
President, UFCW 770

Why We Fight

Hardworking people like you are responsible for feeding and caring for your communities every single day. Yet, there’s only a handful of times throughout the year where we celebrate the dignity of working. Today is one of them: International Workers’ Day.

It’s a chance for us all to pause and reflect on why we do what we do, as well as why we pour our blood and sweat into organizing: to make a better life for our families. I wanted to take this moment to show some of the faces of your union brothers and sisters, and recap the core values of this union.

This is why we fight: for each other.

More Hours and Flexible Shifts

Scheduling should provide the hours we need to support our families with one job, the flexibility to enjoy and take care of our families, and accommodate the other priorities of our lives.
Share the graphic


Fair Wages to Sustain my Family

Work should provide wage increases that make ends meet and allow us to provide for and enjoy our families and lives—without having to work multiple jobs. Share the graphic


Health Benefit Security

All employees should have benefits that provide security in our health. Why? Because our health is our community’s health. Plus, we fought hard for them.
Share the graphic


Democracy in our workplace graphic

We are partners in the success of our businesses, not tools to be discarded. Our unity gives us a voice and a vote in both our workplace and our union. Share the graphic


Retirement security

We work all our lives to enjoy what comes after. Our members should work in peace, without the worry of what life after retirement looks like. We earned it and we’ll fight for it.
Share the graphic


Job Security in Changing times

We understand better than management what consumers want and what works on the floor. By applying that knowledge we can help shape the Grocery jobs of the future.
Share the graphic


Better Neighborhood Grocery Stores

Grocery stores are part of the shared public space, and we commit ourselves to creating and preserving strong, resilient communities.
Share the graphic


I hope you share these points with your co-workers. It’s a small gesture, but builds to a mighty strength. We need every worker in every plant, shop, pharmacy, and dispensary to know where we’re going. When we look each other in the eye, let’s remember one thing: we got this.

And now we go,

John Grant

President, UFCW 770

Cannabis Social Equity Report

Today, along with Equity First Alliance Los Angeles and the Social Impact Center in Los Angeles, UFCW 770 published a report about how we create a healthy Cannabis industry for all Repairing the Harms, Creating the Future: Centering Cannabis Social Health & Equity in Los Angeles.

Read the report

About the Report

The new Repairing the Harms, Creating the Future: Creating Cannabis Social & Health Equity in Los Angeles (2019) report compiles extensive research that shows the City of Los Angeles’ promising programs meant to repair the war on drugs need a more comprehensive approach – and immediate funding – to succeed. A wide range community, worker and industry voices and experts are highlighted who share the effects of the war on drugs but also their engagements with health and social justice through cannabis. The report then outlines how to realize a broader vision of repair and renewal via cannabis in alignment with intersecting work throughout Los Angeles on social and health equity.

Included are comprehensive recommendations on incorporating greater community voice in cannabis regulation, building social equity programs that meet worker and small businesses needs, ensuring non-criminalizing enforcement, and reinvesting cannabis tax funds in health and social equity. Through detailed picture of past, present and future harms and potential in relation to the cannabis industry, Repairing the Harms provides unique data and analysis on how policymakers, industry, workers and community can build a national model of equity in cannabis together.

Report Produced by: Cage-Free Cannabis, Equity First LA, The Social Impact Center and UFCW Local 770
Author: Robert Chlala, PhD Candidate, University of Southern California and Social Equity Researcher/UFCW 770
With: Jackie Cornejo, UFCW 770; Dr. Brandie Cross PhD, Smart Pharm Research Group; Kristen Lovell, The Social Impact Center; Adam Vine, Cage-Free Cannabis

The report explores ways the city of LA can continue to make equity a priority in the future of Cannabis regulation. We must repair the harms of the war on drugs on affected communities and to build a future that serves the needs of the Los Angeles community. This is a roadmap for how we do it.

Although it’s a short read on its own, here are the key takeaways:

Defining Equity
We first developed a shared definition of the word “equity.” Without it, there’s a danger that our efforts to put people and their lives in the center of the future of Cannabis would be unsuccessful. Drawing from the latest research on equitable implementation, we look at equity in three parts, past, present, and future:

1. When implemented, equity closes historical gaps that often align with place, race, and gender;
2. In the present, equity requires strong partnerships with affected communities that supports their participation and power.
3. Finally, when implemented, equity takes into consideration future disparities by building for the long-term (in adaptable ways) and anticipating future harms.

As our cannabis stakeholder forums confirmed, for Los Angeles to be successful, equity has to be centered across all cannabis policies and practices. It must also work in unison with other equity efforts in different sectors of the city and county.

No Better Time than Now
We examined multiple perspectives from a range of stakeholders for insight into the needs of communities, interests of voters, and commitments to equity that policymakers have made. The report investigates areas where equity principles can be applied immediately. The most pressing area in all our minds:
1. Enforcement
2. Funds to support social equity applicants and workers
3. Corporate social responsibility

Our Recommendations
Here are some of our recommendations to push this vision forward:
1. Create a Cannabis Health & Social Equity working group
2. Develop a progressive and comprehensive enforcement strategy for cannabis regulations and halt further criminalization of youth
3. Create a community reinvestment fund to repair the harms of the war on drugs

Read the full report to learn about a future of cannabis that puts people, their voices, and stories in the center of growth and development.

Read the report

Read the Executive Summary

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