Safeway and Fry’s (Kroger) employees are set to go on strike this Friday if an agreement isn’t reached between the companies and the Union. That’s all well and good but there are some issues that are troublesome for the Union and I’m wondering if they’ve really thought this whole thing through.
First, Arizona is a right to work state. This means that you don’t have to be a member of the Union to work in a unionized workplace. Given the fact that we’re looking at very large unemployment numbers at this time, there’s absolutely nothing keeping Safeway and Fry’s from hiring temporary workers or, in fact, firing every employee that is on strike and replacing them. One Fry’s employee put it well in the Arizona Republic today. She stated that working at a grocery store is probably more attractive to someone than working at a Taco Bell or McDonald’s. She may be right. It will be very interesting to see how the grocery stores react to the strike.
Second, the Union isn’t making many friends. The Arizona Republic reported that a majority of the membership does not want to go on strike given the tough economic times we’re currently in. Some are afraid of losing their jobs. Others are wondering how on earth they’ll survive on the Union strike pay of $100 a week. Top this all off with the reports coming out that the main sticking point from getting a compromise is that the Union does not want their membership to pay for any of their own health care costs and you have a recipe for disaster. With health care in the news and on everyone’s mind, it doesn’t make much sense to complain about the grocery companies wanting their NEW employees to pay $5 to $15 a week for coverage depending on their needs. As an example, I am on my company’s health care plan as a single person and I pay almost double the family rate the grocery stores are looking to charge.
Last time we had a grocery strike all the strikers found their jobs replaced by temporary workers and, in the end, the Union caved. The next few days will be very interesting.