There was a time when ROC at least pretended it wasn’t just a union pawn. But with friends in the high places (namely the regulatory bodies that should be keeping worker centers like ROC in check), ROC has dropped the pretense that it’s not serving to build grassroots organizational capacity for unions. So when the AFL-CIO raised the alarm for a series of pickets, ROC and its sister organization, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, came running.
The UFCW, a member of the AFL-CIO, has been in heated contract negotiations with Food 4 Less, the Kroger-owned grocery chain. As bargaining table conversations broke down in late July, the UFCW called for a strike and began to mobilize its non-profit worker center allies. The Food Chain Workers Alliance began collecting petitions, and soon thereafter strikes and protests began.
In 2004, the UFCW tried the same gambit in California: leading the largest grocery store worker strike in history. By all accounts, it backfired and failed miserably – workers absent from work were replaced and the union, got few if any, of its demands. Flush with envy over SEIU-sponsored fast food protests, the UFCW is apparently ready to give it another go.
The context is different this time, of course. Both the SEIU and the UFCW are operating in the Wild West of labor relations. Will the outcomes be different? Time will tell. One thing’s for certain, however – ROC’s got their back.