Over the last week, our local news channels have been covering the grocery workers threat to strike. I’m not going to jump into whether or not I agree with the strikes – or unions at all for that matter – but I do want to talk about appropriate times to strike.
The last time this grocery union went on strike was in October 2003. No, I didn’t look up that fact, I remember it… CLEARLY.
If you type ‘southern california october 2003’ in Google, you won’t see anything about a grocery strike, you’ll see page after page about the horrific Cedar Fire that killed 15 people and destroyed over 2,200 homes.
In the middle of that October night, I got out of bed to see why there was a bright orange glow shining from my window and stared dumbfounded at the flames ripping up the mountainside. A short while later, the fire chief drove up the driveway and told us we had to leave – NOW.
We grabbed what we could, put the dogs in the car, and left.
We drove around for a while, stayed at friend’s homes… until they were evacuated too, and eventually ended up in a Ralph’s parking lot. Now, call me crazy, but the first thought that crossed my mind wasn’t, “Well, these folks are on strike. Maybe I should drive to Trader Joe’s.” Weirdly enough, it was more, “I’m thirsty, the dogs are thirsty, it’s hot, I’m going to get water and ice.”
I loaded the goods into my 4-Runner, gave the dogs a chance to walk around, and decided to drive to yet another friend’s house who hadn’t been evacuated. As I tried to leave the parking lot, the strikers (wearing masks to protect themselves from the huge chunks of ash falling from the orange sky) blocked the driveway to the street. I threw my arms up in frustration and one of the strikers faced me, flipped me the bird, and screamed obscenities as if somehow, I were the most vile human being in the world for shopping at a union grocery store.
That was the day the Southern California grocery store workers lost any hope of support from me then or ever.
Here we are, nearly eight years later, and I will be shopping at Ralphs – and ONLY Ralphs during the strike. If this union didn’t care about the community in its time of need, I simply can’t find the obligation or desire to care about them.
The moral of this story?
If you feel the need to strike for more money, benefits, etc., be cognizant of what is going on in your community – otherwise, you could lose any chance of support.
And trust me… people will remember for a very long time.