These low-wage, predominantly Latino workers were covered under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with El Super that expired on September 27, 2013. The union and bargaining committee met with El Super several times in 2014 to communicate the importance of the members’ proposals to the company. El Super submitted their “last, best, and final” proposal which did not adequately address the members’ most important issues: living wages, respect on the job, seniority rights, affordable health benefits, paid sick leave, and a guaranteed 40 hours work weed for full-time workers (currently only guaranteed 32 hours per week).
On April 14, the UFCW filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against El Super, alleging coercive statements, interrogation, surveillance, and unilateral changes in working conditions. El Super presented its “last, best, and final offer” without fulfilling its bargaining obligations. Workers responded that the offer was unacceptable and voted overwhelmingly against it. The union was authorized to call a strike.
El Super’s failure to negotiate responsibly has continued since June 2014. In 2014, El Super stepped up its union busting efforts and workers were compelled to vote in a US Government supervised election to re-certify their union. The workers voted on December 12 – by more than 3:1 – in favor of retaining the UFCW. El Super workers’ mandate followed despite an aggressive “Vote No” campaign by the company that included captive audience meetings conducted by CEO Carlos A. Smith. Following the recertification vote, the union sent a letter to the company asking them to return to the bargaining table. El Super has ignored this request. El Super’s inaction and refusal to address workers’ needs including guaranteed work hours, adequate sick leave, seniority rights, and fair pay, led to the call for a consumer boycott of El Super markets on December 20. The California Labor Federation and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor sanctioned the boycott with their full support. Two days later, four community-based organizations anchoring the Coalition for a Better El Super – East LA Community Corp., Pueblo y Salud, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education, and Strategic Action for a Just Economy – publicly endorsed the workers’ boycott call. The coalition members demanded an investigation into El Super’s business practices by county health authorities. Since February 2014, inspections at Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange County El Super stores have documented 679 violations of environmental health regulations.
The boycott will continue until El Super workers win respect and a fair contract.