Grocery store employees strike throughout St. Louis

Business as usual is not the case for grocery stores across St.
Louis, as approximately 10,000 union employees are on strike.

Early Tuesday morning at American’s Center, members of the
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 voted 4,252 to 1,670
to go on strike. The supermarkets affected include 57 Schnucks
stores, 21 Shop ‘n’ Save stores and 19 Dierbergs stores in
Missouri. Stores in Illinois are not affected because they are
covered by a different contract.

The union members rejected a contract that would give workers a
25-cent raise each year for the next three years. Additionally, new
employees must work at the store for two years before receiving
benefits, as opposed to the six months that was previously
required. The deductible for medical expenses has also risen.

Because of the strike, stores are no longer open 24 hours.
Instead, they will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additionally,
delis, bakeries and floral shops in the grocery stores are
closed.

Employees are encouraging consumers not to shop at the stores,
offering lists of 30 nonunion supermarkets, including Straubs and
Foodland.

Willette Robinson, an employee at the Schnucks on Lindell
Boulevard, has worked for the company for 23 years. While she gets
paid more than other employees and has better benefits, she
understands the frustration of her co-workers.

“We have to fight for them, for the new people,” Robinson said.
“Down the line, nobody wins. We all lose.”

For Robinson, earning a decent wage at Schnucks did not come
easy. It took her 19 years to get to work 40 hours a
week–something replacement workers at the stores are already
getting, according to Robinson. In addition, the replacements are
earning approximately $12 an hour, she said.

Those walking the picket lines will receive $100 a week, along
with unemployment benefits.

It is not known how long the strike will continue, though
Robinson vows it will go on as long as it takes.

“We can go as long as they go,” Robinson said.