A different kind of summer


The 4th of July is upon us and like several other major holidays that means one thing for our hard-working partners: more work.

Like Thanksgiving and Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday the people working in grocery stores and pharmacies across the state are busier than ever before. We say it many times but it’s still true: you make the holidays happen.

This summer is different than those in the past, but first let’s quickly acknowledge what’s the same. It’s hot. Kids are out of school. Store hours shift to high and low tides as schedules demand. College casual workers return and suddenly new produce products are in season.

Those are the things that are the same. Those are the things you expect.

This summer is a bit different too. Right now, many of you are wondering whether or not there will be a picket line in front of your store. As most of you know by now, UFCW Local 88 – our union family in the meat, deli, and seafood departments – has authorized a strike at Schnucks. They are not currently on strike, but their leadership team is entitled to trigger a strike on short notice if their negotiations break down. This authorization came about two weeks ago when nearly 98 percent of Local 88 members rejected the proposal from Schnucks. This proposal was not recommended by the Local 88 leadership, and it was soundly rejected.

You don’t get a 98 percent rejection vote unless the workers are united behind a common cause. They are seeking the good wages and quality benefits that they deserve — the kind all workers should have, especially when they have a union.

This is what makes this summer different. Local 655 partners have the normal summer beats: kids back home, casual workers back from school and, of course, it’s hot. Those of you with some time with us know what summer looks like in this industry.

This summer we have the possible strike to consider, and you have questions. So, let’s answer those questions now.

  • First, if Local 88 authorizes a strike that is sanctioned by UFCW International, we have an unambiguous message: don’t cross the picket line. I understand some of you may have individual circumstances that might make you hesitate to make a decision and I respect that but let me be very clear: good union partners don’t cross picket lines. Ever.
  • There is a $250 per week check that 655 partners would be entitled to if they honor a picket line, and no amount of money or incentives will change the simple fact that crossing a picket line is not how working people have ever stood together.
  • Local 655 partners cannot be fired, punished, demoted, or retaliated against for honoring a picket line thanks to our union contract AND federal law.
  • If you think to yourself that you cannot afford to picket, keep in mind how Local 88’s contract will affect our contracts going forward, and the community as a whole. A defeat could mean employers will be emboldened or less likely to concede on certain contract disputes in the future. It could mean subpar wages and benefits in other union contracts. We are only as strong as our weakest links, and we cannot let any of our friends at Local 88 be weakened in this moment.

This union is greater than any one person, and it is always strongest when we stand together. Remember, Local 88 was more than willing to stand with us in 2003 when we were forced to strike. Our solidarity cannot depend on our individual circumstances. Loyalty and solidarity must be unconditional and unflinching. That’s what makes us strong.

If we could tell you what’s going to happen next we certainly would, but we can’t. These decisions must be made by the Local 88 leadership team, and Local 655 will do whatever we can to provide advice and support during these negotiations.

If the negotiations fail and a strike becomes a reality then you can bet that Local 655 will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our union family.

This summer is different. For the next few weeks this Local 655 staff will continue crafting plans for our annual Shop Steward Seminar, an annual tradition that is vital for us that we have not celebrated since the pandemic struck us all

Here’s what’s normal, but upsetting: it’s hot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top