Local grocery store workers authorize strike; gender pay gap is confirmed; elected officials respond

–For Immediate Release–
August 25, 2019
Contact: Kelley McAllister, UFCW Local 555, (415) 794-2687, kmcallister@ufcw555.org

Local grocery store workers authorize strike; gender pay gap is confirmed; elected officials respond

Tigard, Ore–On the evening of Saturday, August 24th in Baker City, OR, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 grocery store members concluded their vote in the last of a total of 92 meetings that were held throughout the summer across Oregon and SW Washington, on behalf of 20,000+ affected workers.

UFCW Local 555 members have voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike anywhere in the jurisdiction against Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC, and/or Safeway. Such an authorization does not automatically trigger a strike; instead, it provides the Local 555 Unity Bargaining Team with the discretion to call for a strike anywhere in UFCW Local 555’s jurisdiction at any of the aforementioned stores whenever the Team should deem such action necessary.
The next negotiation session between the Unity Bargaining Team and the employers’ negotiators will take place on Thursday, August 29th. Further updates will be released after that meeting has concluded.

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Last week the Fred Meyer of Portland – Structural Pay Equity Study was published by Olympic Analytics, a Pacific Northwest-based firm that provides research, training, and consulting for non-profits (including labor unions) and government agencies. Local 555 commissioned this third-party statistically rigorous analysis of Fred Meyer wage data to further determine accuracy of the conclusions showed in the Union’s Women of 555 campaign.

In addition to confirming Local 555 findings re: the percentages of men/women in Schedules A/B and resultant pay differentials, the SPES also found:

  • Women are more likely to work full-time, but earn less doing so. (pg 4)
  • Women are twice as likely to be placed in lead positions but earn an average of $1.68 less an hour than a man who is promoted to a lead position. (pg 4)
  • The gender gap in the grocery industry has closed by only 5.8% in the last 81 years. (pg 4)
  • The pay gap exists regardless of which variables are accounted for. (pg 5)
  • Similarly, regardless of department within Schedule A/B, the gender split still exists. (pgs 19-20)
  • Outside of the grocery contract, Schedule A does not always designate a higher wage. Specifically, the entire non-foods department is paid at a Schedule B wage that is titled “Schedule A.”
  • Historical issues and similar studies (pgs 9-11) and other findings (pgs 28-29) that may collectively illustrate how historical expectations for “women’s work” and/or societal stereotypes may be tied to Schedule B wages.
  • Questions of relative profit margin, addressed between pgs 29/30. “However, Schedule B departments appear to have comparable or higher gross profit margins, which could translate to higher, not lower, marginal product of labor.”
  • “As a whole, Kroger generated $121.2 billion in sales in fiscal year (“FY”) 2018, an increase of 23.2% over the past 5 years, and earned $3.1 billion in profits, a 63.1% jump from FY 2017. Kroger has also returned billions to shareholders in recent years, including $1.6 billion in share buybacks and $444 million in dividend payments in 2017, and an additional $2.2 billion in buybacks authorized in 2018.” (pg 6)
Dan Clay, President of UFCW Local 555, commented on the study. “You can’t close a wage gap of this magnitude with a token contribution of a dime a year, period. And frankly, even the highest paid Schedule A workers aren’t making enough to make ends meet. We need a sea change in the perception of how much our workers matter. None of these stores could remain open, much less rake in profits for execs and stockholders, if it weren’t for our Union-proud members working tirelessly to keep everything up and running. These are valued members of our community, and they should be paid as such.”

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Oregon’s elected officials began to weigh in on the issue, providing another branch of support for grocery workers statewide. Continue to check back at  https://www.ufcw555.org/elected-leaders-support-the-women-of-555/ as supporters are added daily.
“It heartens me to see that politicians elected to support working families really do speak up when these families need help. Grocery jobs used to be solidly middle-class positions that could support a family. The work remains central to our daily experience: it’s just no longer paid as such. As others have said, we’re called the “working class” because we work, and we work hard. I appreciate every leader who has stepped forward with a call for change,” said Jeff Anderson, UFCW Local 555’s Secretary-Treasurer.
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Concerned community members who have not yet weighed in to support workers are encourage to sign the following petition: http://b.link/standwithus

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United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 represents nearly 25,000 workers in Oregon and SW Washington and has grown to be the largest private sector labor union in Oregon. Local 555 members are a diverse group of workers in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare, among other industries.