All eyes are on Colorado, where the first major grocery labor strike has surfaced since the recession began.
All eyes are on Colorado, where the first major grocery labor strike has surfaced since the recession began. And while consumers might have historically shown sympathy for one side or the other, depending on the issues at hand, nobody knows for sure how today’s struggling households will react if a grocery workers strike comes to pass – particularly with so much economic uncertainty ahead.
Would shoppers go out of their way to buy in worker-friendly stores, which might be less convenient or costlier, when they must keep their own tight budgets in line? Or might they resent workers who possibly earn more per hour than they do, who have the gumption to walk out on their employers?
Let’s spare the details of current negotiations and processes for the moment. At SupermarketGuru.com, we believe that not knowing which way the consumer needle will move is a significant factor in why the United Food and Commercial Workers union hasn’t authorized the locals to walk out.
Fact is, a strike would hurt both stores and workers in many ways. Everything has changed since the Los Angeles strike of two years ago, when most shoppers eventually returned to their initial stores. More recently, people have discovered new places to buy foods, and they’ve adopted new shopping and savings habits. If pushed to shop elsewhere because of a strike, they just might never go back.
Stakes are high for stores that could lose business or close, workers that could lose their jobs permanently, and innocent shoppers who could lose the shopping destinations they currently prefer.
Meanwhile, a UFCW website (www.alwayshereforcolorado.com) attempts to sway the public in its favor by leading with the phrase, “Profitable national grocery chains are pushing cuts on neighborhood grocery workers,” offering a petition for electronic signatures, and allowing people to pledge their support of grocery workers.
The site also has a searchable map, provided by ProgressNow Colorado, to help customers of Safeway, Albertsons and King Soopers find alternative stores to shop. So far, local sources say that Smart & Final and Save-A-Lot have already picked up traffic. The economy has probably driven this trend so far, but if cool heads don’t prevail and resolve issues without a strike, the run could soon be on.