Saturday, April 24, 2004

Workplace Intimidation

Local chains covered by the UFCW contract - Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer (both of these are Kroeger-owned), and Albertsons have started to advertise for replacement workers in the event of a labor stoppage. Full-page ads were taken out in local papers, including the P-I, and I came across them unsuspectingly yesterday morning. They were jarring, in bold, large letters, and clearly meant to scare workers as well as grab the public's attention.

Now, this was bad enough, an 'unnecessary provocation' as UFCW officials put it. So what do I see when I head down to my local Safeway last night with my girlfriend to buy implements to make manicotti? A big sign, posted right inside the doorway, advertising for replacement workers.

This pissed me off. What is the checker or the stockperson supposed to think when they show up for their shift? It's an obvious case of workplace intimidation - grab the attention of employees who are already skittish about a possible strike. Make them scared, make them worry. And what happens if some unsuspecting young kid, needing some spending money, sees the sign and asks an employee for an application? Can you imagine the pangs of anger and frustration running through that employee as they're smacked upside the head with this?

So I decided to do some guerrilla counter-propaganda. The sign in the store was placed on the other side of a standard store ad for some Mariners promotion. I simply turned the sign around as I walked out of the store.

This morning I drive by to find that Safeway has posted the sign on the door itself. It can't be easily removed now.

Corporations suck.
This is the inaugural post for the Unofficial UFCW Puget Sound Watch. As contract negotiations intensify and the supermarket chains begin an underhanded quasi-PR campaign, it is my goal to provide news and analysis of the negotiations, and potential strike, from a perspective sympathetic to the workers.

I am not a member or, nor am I affiliated with, the UFCW. I'm just a dude who believes in unions, in the middle-class, and solidarity. Hope you all find this useful.

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