AS POSSIBLE STRIKE LOOMS, DC AREA COMMUNITY RALLIES BEHIND GROCERY WORKERS.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASErnMarch 27th, 2008rnrnContact: Ruth Castel-Branco– 202.489.2273, DC Jobs with JusticernrnrnWASHINGTON, DC—As the possibility of a DC metro-wide grocery strike looms, community allies, labor activists and faith leaders are taking to the sidewalks and parking lots of their local grocery stores in support of a just contract with affordable healthcare and pensions for all Safeway and Giant workers. rnrn “Safeway and Giant argue that they’re being choked by the benefits package they’re currently providing but it’s hard to believe. The reality is that last year Giant’s parent company, Royal Ahold’s revenue nearly tripled,” said Mackenzie Baris, lead organizer of DC Jobs with Justice. “This is not just about Safeway or Giant, this is a fight for the future of good retail jobs and we need to send a strong message that we won’t let this happen in our community.”rnrnDC Jobs with Justice, a coalition of community, labor and faith organizations, has been mobilizing its membership to support Safeway and Giant workers by handing solidarity cards to workers to raise morale, leafleting outside stores, and urging customers to hand in their bonus or club cards in protest. “The support of our members has been overwhelming,” said Ruth Castel-Branco, also an organizer with DC Jobs with Justice. “Over the last week more than 200 members organized leafleting actions at 25 grocery stores across the metro DC region.”rnrnAccording to activists, these actions are having an impact. “After handing out flyers in front of the Burke Center Giant, I wanted to see if customers were delivering the cards to employees. Sure enough there were stacks of cards on their registers! The cashiers were so appreciative and commented on the many customers that wished them well,” said Joyce Putnam, a member of OPEIU Local 2.rnrnMeanwhile Safeway and Giant have launched an intimidation campaign, taking out advertisements in the Washington Post for jobs starting at $12 an hour, but this strategy seems to have backfired among community members. “I supported them [the workers] a few years back and I’m ready to support them even more so now due to the company’s shameful display asking for scab workers,” said Jim Lee of the International Association of Firefighters. “I am willing and ready to boycott Safeway any time. I’m sure my brother’s family will join in a boycott as well.”rnrnFaith communities, including Interfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington, have also rallied behind the workers, leading delegations to store managers and spreading the word to parishioners. Last Sunday Providence United Methodist Church in Fort Washington. MD offered a special prayer for UFCW members and made plans to visit 3 stores in their area to show support. “Members of our congregations shop at these stores,” said Rev. Kay Johnson or St. Thomas Episcopal Church in DC. “We’re prepared to support the workers in any way we can.”rn rnTonight at 6:00pm, Jobs with Justice members will be flyering outside the Dupont Circle Safeway, 1701 Corcoran St NW. rn

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