Area Raley’s strikers get support, jeering at picket lines

By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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From Granite Bay to northwest Roseville, employees of Raley’s remain out in force, experiencing both encouragement and doses of verbal venom from would-be shoppers.

At the same time, local strikers continue to insist they are under union directions not to speak to the media, despite one leader at the United Food and Commercial Workers claiming no such orders have been given. 

By 10:30 a.m. today, more than 12 strikers had gathered in front of the Raley’s supermarket at the intersection of Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard and Pleasant Grove Boulevard. Ten minutes later, a female shopper in a black SUV lashed out at the group as she exited with her groceries, shouting that they were “a bunch of idiots” and vowing she would be back with her own picket sign against them.

“I pay for my own health care!” she yelled before leaving.

A number of strikers at that Woodcreek location told the Press Tribune that the future of their health care is at the heart of their demonstration, though each employee said they were not allowed by the union to discuss their own thoughts and feelings on-the-record, claiming only their union representatives — who were present — were authorized to talk. Striking workers at Roseville’s Douglas Boulevard Raley’s and the Granite Bay Raley’s also said they were not permitted to speak. However, the union representatives the Press Tribune was referred to at each location claimed that they, too, were barred by union leadership from talking to the media — asserting only United Food and Commercial Workers President Jaques Loveall could engage reporters.

This afternoon, union spokesman Rick Glazer denied that the Raley’s employees had been ordered not to talk.

“I don’t know why they would say or think that,” Glazer said. “There have been Raley’s workers quoted in the Sacramento Bee. We can’t control what the employees say, and honestly, we rather their side be out there in the press.”

Glazer did acknowledge that all of the union representatives who were out at the various Raley’s stores were under “strict directions” not to speak to the media and to refer all journalists to Loveall.

For his part, Loveall sent out a message yesterday that said thousands of Raley’s employees would be striking across California due to “bad faith contract negotiations,” employee intimidation and a company effort to eliminate “retiree health care.”   

The union has also accused Raley’s management of refusing to open their financial books to an independent, third-party auditor to prove the financial hardship it has claimed publicly. The union contends that grocery chain Save Mart recently did open its financial holdings to a third-party during negotiations, resulting in a number of concessions from the employees.

Raley’s has not yet commented on the strike.

One person who was willing to share his take on the controversy was Granite Bay Raley’s shopper Dan Kern, who is firmly on the side of the strikers.

“I’m supporting them because I’ve become friends with a lot of the employees at the store in the course of my shopping here for years,” Kern said. “I think these workers realize that there’s a lot of grocery competition in the area now that doesn’t take care of their employees ... These workers aren’t asking for anything more than what they already have: Obviously, Raley’s management has made some real mistakes in growth and now they want to take it out on their employees. But that’s not good for the middle class, because stagnant wages are why we can’t crawl out of this recession.” 

All three area Raley’s stores had both indoor and outdoor security present during the strike today.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.