Social media goes crazy over Teamsters efforts to save 234 jobs
By ED FINKELSTEIN
The boycott launch of Schnucks Markets by Teamsters Local 688 was a rousing success as members of many unions and retirees turned out to handbill 15 Schnucks stores to protect the jobs of 204 Teamsters Local 688 families and 30 management families.
When the boycott was announced via Facebook, social media, the Labor Tribune and with an announcement to local media, support for the Teamsters efforts was instantaneous:
- Customers walking into the stores turned away once given a special “Boycott Schnucks” handbill.
- When police moved handbillers from in front of the store to shopping center entrances, customers turning into the center immediately turned around. And many customers, with turn blinkers on indicating they were about to enter the center, simply kept driving and didn’t go in once they saw the handbillers. And lots of honking horns showing support of passer-byers.
- Social media went CRAZY, said Local 688 Vice President Chris Tongay, “ a clear indication that our boycott is quickly gathering even more steam immediately impacting customers’ shopping patterns.”
The determination of the handbillers was clear in a statement from a Teamsters 600 retiree who joined the effort: “We don’t have time to sugar coat anything it’s time to fight.”
In their handbill, Local 688 Chief Executive Officer Mike Goebel pointed out that, “If Schnucks moves ahead with its plan, hundreds of St. Louis families will lose their livelihoods. Schnucks will drive down standards for the middle-class jobs in our region. And the economic effect will ripple throughout our community.”
Since the campaign began, social media has lit up and helped spread the word dramatically, from the day handbilling began on April 8:
- April 8-May 1: Avg. per day - 15,927 Facebook people reached with 61 percent growth in likes.
- May 1-June 15: Avg. per day – 11,007 people reached with a 36 percent growth in Facebooks likes.
- June 16-19/Boycott begins: Avg. per day - 25,000 more people reached with a 1,056 percent increase in Facebook likes.
- Twitter: April 8-June 19: Over 175,000 people reached with a 29 percent increase in followers.
From the day the campaign began, Facebook likes have increased 104 percent to more than 545,000 people seeing the posts.
Local 688 was forced to a boycott after two and a half months of unsuccessfully trying to get Todd Schnuck to the bargaining table to negotiate the company’s threats to fire the 234 loyal workers and replace them with scabs at half the wages at the company’s new $100 million warehouse near completion in north St. Louis.
“We are urging every union family, and through them all their other family members and friends, to NOT shop at Schnucks so that the company gets the message that trying to make more money on the backs of middle-class workers is not a strategy for long-term growth in such a competitive marketplace,” Goebel added.
STRONG MESSAGE TO SCHNUCKS
“We will continue handbilling. Our members are strong, the public is obviously supportive and we hope that combination will send a strong message to Schnucks that they should reconsider destroying the lives of 234 families,” said Mike Schlueter, Local 688 business representative for the local’s warehouse division.
Handbillers June 18 and 19 were at Arsenal, Shackelford, Florissant, Crestwood, Harvester, Cottleville, Gravois, Hampton, Overland Plaza, West Falls Plaza, Twin Oaks, O’Fallon, Affton Plaza, Cross Keys, Butler Hill and Mid Rivers.