Fry's Grocery Store Workers Going on Strike in Arizona?

In Arizona, union workers at Fry’s Grocery Stores may soon be going on strike. If issues are not resolved by Saturday, there will be a strike. Preemptively, Fry’s is recruiting temp workers to fill in the spots needed by striking workers. The pay is “up to $15.75/hour.”

I decided to ask one of the workers about the strike. He said that they weren’t asking for anything extra; they were, in fact, asking for nothing. However, they were trying to keep things from being taken from them. He stated that Fry’s wanted to cut approximately $12,000/annually in benefits and salary from workers. I haven’t looked up Fry’s website to verify this yet, but if it’s true, it’s outrageous. While I can understand problems with employees if ridiculous demands are made, I think it’s completely wrong to try to take away from people. And to use the threat of scabs in order to do it. I’d love to have a job right now, even one that may be temporary. But not like this.

Why is it always wrong to reduce employees’ pay and benefits? If conditions mean that continuing to pay at the same level would lead you into bankruptcy, thereby putting everyone out of work, should management not be allowed to cut costs as a survival mechanism?

I don’t know whether management is being reasonable or not in this particular case. Fry’s is part of Kroger, which announced reduced profits for its last quarter, but did at least make a profit. What I do know is that sometimes management has to reduce pay and benefits to survive (my company, for one example), so it is not black and white to say that it is “completely wrong to try to take away from people.”

And as for the pejorative use of “scabs” as a term: there is a market rate for every job. If you try hold out for above the market rate when there are others willing to work for less, then calling them “scabs” may make you feel better, but you are just denying reality.

But they are making a profit. They have been.

And I don’t care what you call them, “scabs” or not, it doesn’t make me feel better or worse. However, if I’ve worked at a place for a length of time, have earned the raises that I’ve been given, etc, and then am suddenly out of a job so they can hire someone new at a lower rate, it’s pretty skunky. Not of the new workers, but of the employers.

Especially if the person has no choice but to strike because that’s what the union says they have to do.

Well, they should have thought about that before joining a union. If someone wants to work for less, they deserve the job.

Do you have a choice, then? I thought it was mandatory for some positions.

In the first place, in many union positions your raise is not “earned”, it’s “awarded” based on your position and how long you’ve been there.

In the second place, the most common thing I’ve heard about the strike in Cali. is that the company wants to increase workers’ health insurance contributions and prescription co-pays. Well cry me a river. If you’re a clerk with 5 years on the job and you’re making $12.00 an hour, you can deal with your 'script costs bumping from $5 to $10, like every other worker in the US has.

While unions once had their place, they have gone way overboard in what they demand for their members, and I’m glad more companies are refusing to cave to them or refusing to allow them in in the first place.

A friend of mine who works in downtown Phoenix has to wade through a phalanx of picketers every morning because the office building in which she works is using non-union carpenters for some renovation and expansion work.

Maybe the building owners wanted the work done up to code, on budget and on time?

I was born and raised in the Midwest, and I grew up watching the grautitious abuse and real harm labor unions inflicted on industry.

Another friend of mine is a manager at the Michellin tire plant in N.E. Indiana. Tire assemblers can make up to $70,000 a year because of the union-mandated pay structure. While building a quality tire is an important job, and one that I’m glad to see people being motivated to perform well, I think $70K is a little more motivation than is needed.

Unions don’t need to be outlawed. They need to be ignored.

I understand what you’re saying, Angel, but that doesn’t answer my question.

Is is mandatory, in some work places, to belong to a union? Do the workers have a choice? Is it their fault, or the unions, when they go on strike?

It’s a little of both. At union companies, employees are required to join (another reason I loathe them). However, I believe union members must vote directly on whether or not to strike, but in the primary strike (Cali.) and any sympathy strikes (Ariz.)

Here in Calif., Von’s and Ralph’s workers make $15-18/hr as checkers, etc. - not bad money for a position that does not require
a college education. They are being paid $300/wk. to walk in front of the store with picket signs. The union is claiming that the raise in employee cost for medical insurance (up to $60 a month to cover a family) is unfair. I say, welcome to the real world - our coverage as a couple costs $300/month thru husband’s employer, and that’s the part that comes out of our pocket. So technically, we should be making 5 times $15/hr minimum for this whole equation to work. Not even close, and we are college educated professionals. Health care is costly, and it’s not going to get any better in the near future. Today was the first time I have crossed the picket line to shop, simply because I was nowhere near the non-union stores and I needed food for dinner tonight. I was treated to hissing and general kindergarten behavior from the picketers as I entered the store. Maybe if they want to get some respect from the customers, they might want to consider a more mature approach to their protest.