Long march for Shaw's workers

BOSTON--Striking workers from the Methuen, Mass., distribution warehouse of Shaw's Supermarkets arrived here May 27, completing a five-day, 60-mile walk to bring attention to the unjust actions of the corporation toward the workers, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 791.

The marchers were met at the Massachusetts State House by over 200 supporters, including Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, numerous state legislators, labor leaders and other community leaders.

Invoking the memory of Cesar Chavez, whose marches on behalf of farmworkers had inspired them, the mostly Latino warehouse workers gave testimony to their resolve to force Shaw's back to the bargaining table.

Since March 7, 310 workers have been on strike due to the company's refusal to pick up any of the 13 percent increase in health care costs for workers and their families. On April 1, Shaw's cut off all health care benefits to workers and their families, even though some have serious medical problems, including those connected to work.

Three times since the strike began, Shaw's management has come to the bargaining table, only to submit ultimatums to the union. It has become increasingly clear that the underlying intent of the company is to break the union. Shaw's has already begun hiring permanent scab replacements.

Shaw's is a subsidiary of SuperValu, which also owns supermarket chains such as Acme, Albertson's, Save-a-Lot, Star and Jewel-Osco. SuperValu CEO Craig Herkert, is a former WalMart executive who brought to his new position a longstanding contempt for unions.

The UFCW has called for a national boycott of SuperValu stores until the company negotiates a fair contract with Shaw's.