Why We Occupy Safeway

Media Contact:
James Lee
ORWCMedia at Gmail.Com

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SATURDAY 2/18 @ 11 AM – Redwood City Caltrain Station

Occupy Redwood City (ORWC) is proud to be joined by Occupy San Jose (OSJ), members of other local Occupy groups, and members of the Peninsula’s local labor community in Occupying a Wells Fargo branch inside the Redwood City Safeway store. In the spirit of OSJ’s Wall Street Wednesdays, ORWC will be expanding its usual “Strike Back Saturday” march to be more than just a protest against the Big Banks: misbehaving corporations will also be a target of the march and in that spirit ORWC will be protesting Safeway and Wells Fargo together at the same location.

While Safeway is a union house that employs United Food and Commercial Workers as well as other unions, the company has been building 50,000-square-feet, big-box “lifestyle” stores in San Mateo County using anti-labor general contractors. Safeway is also paying top executives bonuses for keeping labor costs at under 10% of each project. By definition this means workers will be paid less than local prevailing wages, 14,000 union members will be excluded from these local jobs, and the burden of medical and social service costs will be placed on local city and county taxpayers instead of on Safeway.

In contrast, the three “lifestyle” stores Safeway erected in San Francisco were built using local union contractors. Without a similar commitment from Safeway to local wages and to local hiring in San Mateo County, the thirty percent of local carpenters, painters, electricians and other workers who are still out of a job will remain out of a job. This leads to the loss of medical benefits, foreclosures, and pain for working families and local governments.

FACT: Safeway projects in Burlingame and Daly City were being built with non-union labor.

FACT: Safeway has a history of verbally agreeing to consider union labor, but then going with out-of-area, non-union contractors.

FACT: Safeway has a policy of going with the lowest bidder, whoever they are, which would always preclude local/union/prevailing wage workers.

( Building Trades Unions Seek Commitment from Safeway to Build Union in Millbrae )

ORWC and OSJ firmly believe that if Safeway can hire union workers to work inside their stores and to build their San Francisco branches, they are just as capable of building on the Peninsula with local union labor. ORWC and OSJ are proud to be the first Occupy groups to be Occupying a Big Bank branch inside a grocery store and to be actively connecting issues of economic justice and Big Bank greed with the issues of workers’ rights and corporate dominance over local communities.

In order to highlight the contrast between large corporations and small businesses that give back to the community, ORWC, OSJ, and their allies in Occupy and labor groups will also be promoting Broadway Barista, a local cafe, during their march and will end with a rally at City Hall to call on the Council to do more to help local entrepeneurs after they are done shutting down the banks.

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Footnote: Today’s Big Bank action comes on the heels of a protest by Occupiers against Obama’s fundraising appearance at the Masonic Center in San Francisco Thursday evening. Members of ORWC and OSJ are proud to have constituted the main block of Occupy protesters at that event.

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