Possible Strike At Safeway and Giant?

A reader writes:  “I just wanted to give you and the PoP readers a heads up on something that could really affect everyone’s quality of life. From what I’ve been hearing, it’s possible that workers at the Safeway and Giant could go on strike next week.  The supermarkets seem to be demanding major concessions, especially on wages, that the union doesn’t want to give in to.  Which seems pretty understandable–the workers at these stores should be making decent wages.  I think it’s important to support the workers and not cross the picket line, but it’s also going to be hard to get groceries easily (I live right next to the Safeway).  What do you think?”

I was brought up to follow two rules very strictly.  First, never name names and second, never cross picket lines.  So thanks to the new Target (doesn’t it have a grocery section?), it’s really not that inconvenient to not cross the picket lines either.  So I don’t know enough about this possible strike but I generally give the benefit of the doubt to the strikers.  But that’s just me.  So what do you guys think?  Would you cross a picket line?

37 Comment

  • never ever ever cross a picket line. it’s the only way we can stick it to the man!

  • my parents always told me there was nothing worse than a scab. i would be disowned if i crossed a picket line. plus, the giant is overpriced, understaffed and always full of people as it is, if they are not making money than it is their own business model that is the problem.

  • as much as i can’t stand the giants and safeways around here sometimes, i don’t cross picket lines.

  • never cross a picket line! if i went without decent tv (writer’s strike) for weeks on end, i can find groceries elsewhere!

  • Yes, never cross a picket line. Because unions are never unreasonable, and business owners are always wrong.

    Shades of “don’t snitch.”

  • I do at least 75% of my grocery shopping at the YES organic market in Brookland, so this really wont affect me much.

    Good luck to the workers!

  • If it comes to a strike, I won’t shop there. There’s always Arthur’s, Continental market on Sherman, & Murray’s on GA Ave — a reason to beg them to stock skim milk and veggies

  • Honestly, blindly not crossing a picket line because “you’re not supposed to” is like voting straight ticket.

    I don’t completely know the specifics of the strike, but let’s consider the type of service we receive from our Giant. With the exception of a few, many of the workers there aren’t exactly the most efficient and customer-focused. Now, maybe that is because they aren’t paid a fair wage and don’t receive fair benefits. But, if that’s not the case, then I would cross in a second.

    My parents may not have taught me to never cross a picket line, but they did teach me to take pride in my work and give my all in any task. I can’t say that many of the Giant workers follow that creed. Can you?

  • pauper’s right on. i couldn’t agree more!

  • while i agree with pauper on the straight ticket simile, i definitely believe that the workers arent being paid what theyre worth though, not just to deal with their company, but also because of the people they deal with in the community. columbia heights is becoming filled with yuppy b!tches that are bringing in a whole sense of entitlement, imo… last time i was at giant, i saw a clerk almost get in a fight because he asked the lady he was checking out to get off of her cell phone and answer the age old question of ‘paper or plastic?’ of course her jerk bf/husband didnt like that, and i was sure something was about to start, but luckily it fizzled out… i think these employees get treated like dirt more often than not, so i cant really fault them when they dont rush to the aid of a shopper who cant find lowfat kosher organic raisin oat bread because she cant be bothered to hang up her stupid phone and actually look for it

  • “columbia heights is becoming filled with yuppy b!tches that are bringing in a whole sense of entitlement, imo…”

    That’s a lovely sentiment there, cristobal, I’ll be sure to pass that along to my wife and female friends in Columbia Heights. Way to stereotype based on one transaction you witnessed. I’m also dismayed by people on cellphones while in line at the grocery store, but hardly think that’s a behavior confined to a particular group of people.

  • funny you’d suggest shopping at the non-union Target instead, given that the rise of non-union big box stores selling groceries is the main reason unionized groceries are having so much trouble.

  • I’m sorry, but the customer service was bad at the old giant on 14th before all the yuppie bitches. I blame the company for those issues (likely poor wages etc.). Giant put an ad in the post yesterday that they will be closing on tuesday for a few hours so their employees could go to the union negotiations.
    I was also taught not to cross a picket line, also don’t tell anyone who you vote for or how much money you make. But I don’t agree with the no naming names thing.

  • i think the friendliness of the workers increases with the level of staffing that the company provides. at safeway, you can only have 2 people in line at regular checkouts but 3 or 4 in line at express checkouts, so now corporate has made more lanes express so that the lines can be longer.

    i’m 100% with the workers on this, and i’d never cross a picket line. these corporations could easily add a checker or 2 during busy times, but they’d rather pinch pennies. it’s not like safeway or ahold (giant’s parent company) are about to file for bankruptcy or anything.

    also, something to note–the union workers at these companies actually get health insurance, and my understanding is that much of the negotiations were centered on that. that’s huge in terms of quality of life.

  • I’m glad to hear that a strike has been averted, though I find myself going to Safeway and Giant less often. As for yuppie b***ch tendencies, i try to control them, as should others.

  • columbia heights is becoming filled with yuppy b!tches that are bringing in a whole sense of entitlement, imo

    ok, so you’re a racist and a misogynist. NICE! I’m glad I don’t know you.

  • I don’t think yuppie cutomers are an issue here. When I lived in SW and went to the Waterfront Safeway, the customer service was much worse than at the Adams Morgan Safeway I go to now.

  • A “whole sense of entitlement”??? To what, exactly? I agree with Anon. at 9:48 — Giant had a whole slew of problems well before yuppy b*tches reached any critical mass in Columbia Heights, notably an absence of basic concepts of service. Equating and deriding expectations of basic service with a sense of entitlement, I would argue, is certainly choosing the lowest common denominator.

    Personally, I can’t wait for the day I read that Ellwood Thompson’s has finalized its lease. Paired with the Target, it will be interesting to see what happens to Giant when there is some competition across the street for all those lamentable yuppy b*tches’ grocery dollars.

  • just read the WaPo too — employees are voting from 10:30-2:30 and Giant stores will be closed during this time to allow voting.

  • Never ever cross a picket line.

    If employees are willing to vote for a strike, meaning weeks, potentially months, and sometimes in rare cases, years of being out of work, getting strike pay, which if they’re lucky is half of what they usually make, and dealing with all the shit that comes with having to be on strike . . . well, if the employees are willing to do that, the conditions at work have to be royally crappy.

    Never ever cross a picket line.

    Shopping at a non-union competitor is acceptable if the union stores are on strike.

  • what are you talking about DCer? how does ‘yuppy bitch’ equate to racism and misogyny? im glad you dont know me either, but i gather just from this that youre probably one of the people that im talking about, so we probably wouldnt get along anyway.

    im sure you would be hard pressed to find anyone that really wants to be a check out clerk (i did it through high school and college…its not great), and i have definitely met some that are just right out rude no matter what i do. the point is, i feel like if the environment you work in is negative, you cant help but to be negative yourself. with these guys working for low wages, little or poor healthcare, and a rather unexciting job, i think the least you could do when going through their line is to hang up your phone, smile, answer when they speak to you, and say thanks when youre walking away. a little kindness goes a long way, and if this is a concept thats hard for you to get, then your’e the problem…all you can do is be better and work for the better…

  • I am a former grocery store checkout worker, and former member of the AFL-CIO. So back in 1986 when I worked at the Big Star in NC all the checkout clerks were timed on how many items per minute we could check out (averaged over a week) and we actually got bonuses if you were the fastest checker outer that week. I see absolutely no sign that either the Columbia Heights Giant or Georgia Ave Safeway clerks get any reward or incentive to be fast. The Safeway in particular…there is always someone disputing the cost of something and the clerk totally disappears for 10 minutes. The store where I worked also had a policy of having no lines more than 2 people deep and opening up a new register when lines started getting long. I swear in DC it’s the opposite – if lines start getting short they’ll actually take people OFF the registers.

    So let’s bring 1986 technology to DC and try to make it a nicer experience for customers to shop. I have to say kudos to one store where the checkout clerks are fast and nice — the Giant in Van Ness.

  • I don’t think the term “yuppy bitch” equates racist or mysogyny as well. I think DCer you jumped the gun a little on that as well. I think Cristobal was merely trying to paint a picture of what it feels like to be on the cashier side of things when he was stating his point of how frustrating it must be for these workers that they would even consider going on strike. I think in regards to not crossing picket lines and snitching…they are two completely different things. Not crossing a picket line is supporting change for a group of people that feel so desperate they are willing to risk being fired, not getting paid for the time of the picket ect. Not snitching is supporting something entirely different. It is a mentality that gets ingrained into people that causes more problems for others. A friend of mine teaches at a rough school in the VA Beach area, she said a student of hers was brutally beaten to death on his way home. His fellow classmates all know who did it but they were all taught “never snitch” and so this child dies without any justice. The kids who did this to him go unpunished to kill someone else’s child. Sure no one likes a tattle tail but where do you draw the line?

  • How much does a Safeway cashier make?

  • I could care less about crossing a picket line. I need groceries and I need convenient groceries. I’m not trying to drive 10 miles out of my way when there is a Giant 4 blocks from my home. I need my organic whole grain raisin bread and sugar free roasted nut bran fiber O’s right now.

  • Hey does anyone know when that new Harris Teeter opens over in Adams Morgan? I’d rather buy my overpriced groceries at a sparkling new store (that Giant is looking old now) where I can share tips on braising lamb shanks with other white folk.

  • I have never personal issue or intereaction with the staff at the Giant in CH, but I would agree with those that have written that they are not the fastest. In fact, with a few execeptions, I would say the check out clerks, and the floor staff have to be amond the slowest I have ever seen. Heck, it may be a pay issue, but there is a night and day difference between Whole Foods and Giant as far as staff speed, efficiency and helpfulness. Whole Foods isn’t unionized….you figure out the difference there!

  • Yuppies aren’t the problem– otherwise, why would the Safeways and Giants in Virginia have customer service that is so much better than in DC?

    YuppieCustomer– someone on DCist says it should be opening April 26th. Not sure if this will be a good thing or a bad thing for me– I live one block away, so the convenience will be great, but I’m sure I can kiss my chances of ever finding a parking space goodbye.

  • FYI for those who care, Harris Teeter is not a union shop either.

  • Whole foods is not unionized and they treat their people poorly. You are not allowed to work full time, to avoid providing benefits. You can’t work at the store closest to you. It’s like a fraternity hazing. I wouldn’t cross a picket line. I’m still cranky about Safeway not honoring the United Farm Workers Union.

  • I’m sorry, but I really can’t stand unions. I’ve noticed that I always encounter the rudest, laziest staff in unionized workplaces.

  • Why do staff at Whole Foods seem to be more responsive than Giant or Safeway? Seems like the Union folks at Giant and Safeway have it pretty good. They don’t work that particularly hard and don’t seem to know thier products, unlike thier non union bretheren at Whole Foods I think the quality of service unionization forments at grocery stores speaks for itself.

  • I just read on washingtonpost.com that the strike has been averted and the union agreed to the contract.

  • Glad to hear the strike is off the table. I’m from Detroit – we *never* cross picket lines.

    Some cashiers at the AM Safeway and the CH Giant are slow and unattentive, but I’ve had quite a few lovely ones as well. And frankly, I really like Giant – their produce is almost always quite good, as opposed to the rotting stuff I often find at the (much closer to me) Safeway.

  • Ever since my cashier at Giant was watching a movie on his PSP while working the express lane, I’ve chosen not to go back there unless absolutely necessary. I go to the farmer’s market in Dupont on Sundays. They’ve got all the food groups. A little more expensive, and less convenient, but that way you don’t buy a bunch of crap you don’t need, and you’re actually paying the people who produce your food, which I think is a good thing.

  • The dupont farmer’s market has cleaning supplies?

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