The right of workers to organize in unions is one of the earliest and most basic premises of Catholic Social Teaching. In most of the United States, every time you shop for groceries you have an opportunity to choose between shopping at a supermarket whose employees have the protection of a union contract, and one that doesn’t. That’s because the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) represents more than 800,000 supermarket clerks, cashiers, stockers and other employees at many of the nation’s leading grocery store chains – but they face tough competition from nonunion competitors in every community, competitors that offer substandard health care benefits and little retirement security.
At one time, the supermarket industry was largely organized, and UFCW members represented most of the industry’s employees. However, large new non-union actors entered the scene, such as Wal-Mart and Whole Foods, and successfully beat back efforts by their workers to form unions.
Want to support union workers and the right to organize? Look for these names:
- King Soopers
- Fred Meyer
- Stop & Shop
The UFCW is one of the nation’s largest unions, reporting 1.3 million members. Outside of the grocery chains, they represent cashiers and clerks at many drugstores and workers at meatpacking plants, as well as other segments of the economy.