LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, July 27 — In preparation for a probable strike of the 62,000 Southern California grocery workers, approximately 300 mostly black, Latino and women grocery workers and supporters, rallied and marched this week. The two paths open to workers were on display: On the one hand, the NAACP and the workers’ union, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) push strategies of compromise and concession, proven to lead to wage-cuts and attacks on pensions. PLP, on the other hand, was there with the message that this and other strikes are training grounds, where workers learn that united, we can smash capitalism and its racist exploitation.
Due to capitalist competition, Ralph’s, Albertson’s, Von’s and other chains must continually strive to maximize their profits. The result is a race to the bottom for workers as their wages and benefits are attacked. Now, after suffering through UCFW-approved wage and pension give-backs, the workers are being asked to pick up an additional $7,000 a year in health care costs! For many of these workers this cut would be a third of their annual income. Meanwhile these three stores raked in $5 billion in profits last year!
In this period of economic crisis, expanding imperialist wars and racist unemployment a potential strike of over 60,000 workers is an opportunity for our Party to join the class-struggle, mobilize our friends on the job, campus and in our mass organizations to expose the inherent exploitation of capitalism and the bankrupt tactics of the sellout unions and build the revolutionary communist PLP.
Leading up to the march, about 30 members of a local church gathered at a nearby store where they demonstrated and then marched inside, handing out letters of support to the workers. This was after Party members pushed for a resolution at a national convention of the Universalist Church (see page 5) to support the strike nationally, pledging to hold demonstrations and walk the picket lines. A contingent of PLP members and friends from the church joined the rally and march wearing stickers “Don’t Buy Scab Food,” which was a hit for many workers.
Several angry workers gave speeches at the rally, including one young black woman worker who boldly condemned the bosses’ attacks and called on the unity of ALL workers. However, under union “leadership” these workers can’t win. These hacks even have the gall to put on their website that they have selected grocery stores where they have weekly pickets and informational leafleting with the aim to apparently win over community support. However, on three separate occasions members and friends have gone to these locations to find no picket lines or anyone handing out information.
On the one hand, it shows the lack of seriousness by the union but on the other hand it gives us the opportunity to expose the essence of union leadership as the bosses’ lackeys. With the union missing, we can pass out our literature, mobilize our base and mass organizations and take on more leadership. We have made modest efforts thus far but can do much better. We must improve our distribution of CHALLENGE and connect the struggles from workers fighting back here to workers fighting back all over the world. This will contribute to the growth of the PLP and the eventual victory of the working class.