CALIFORNIA TEAMSTERS STRIKE AT SMART & FINAL AFTER ALLEGING NEARLY 100 VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL LABOR LAW

Over 600 Workers Walk Out at Smart & Final Distribution Centers in Riverside and Commerce

LOS ANGELES, June 19, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Over 600 warehouse workers represented by Teamsters Local 630 at two Chedraui-owned Smart & Final grocery store warehouses in Southern California went on an unfair labor strike today, protesting mass layoffs and other unfair labor practices.


International Brotherhood Of Teamsters. (PRNewsFoto/International Brotherhood of Teamsters)

Without these long-time, hard-working employees, Smart & Final could experience massive supply chain disruptions during one of the busiest shopping times of the year. Yet Smart & Final refuses to comply with the law and continues to move forward with its unlawful plan to terminate all these employees and transfer their work to a new facility.

“The clock is ticking for Chedraui/Smart & Final to make things right,” said Lou Villalvazo, Teamsters Local 630 Secretary-Treasurer. “The company is continuing to commit unfair labor practices without any regard for its workers. With the busy summer months approaching, the company faces not just a moral but a logistical crisis. They need to act now to guarantee our members their jobs, decent wages, respect and a fair contract. We will not stand by and watch these workers be exploited.”

“No one wants to strike,” said Juan Fernandez, 24-year veteran at Smart & Final. “It’s the last thing we thought we’d have to do. But when our jobs, our families’ futures, and our dignity are on the line, we have no choice. This is the only option Chedraui/Smart & Final has left us to safeguard our livelihoods from a company that seems to have forgotten who keeps it running.”

Teamsters are fighting plans by Chedraui USA, the U.S. subsidiary of the Mexican grocery giant Grupo Comercial Chedraui, to close two unionized Smart & Final warehouses in Commerce and Riverside, Calif., and terminate the dedicated workers who have kept the Smart & Final brand profitable the past decades. These workers are now forced to reapply for employment at $10 to $12 less per hour at a new warehouse in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

The Teamsters are currently pursuing a wide range of unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board. Chedraui USA/Smart & Final is also accused of bad faith bargaining and maintaining an illegal proposal that violates California Assembly Bill (AB) 647, which went into effect in January 2024 and guarantees grocery distribution center workers retention rights when the facilities at which they work undergo a change in control.

“We are not just numbers on a payroll; we are the backbone of Smart & Final,” said Daniel Delgado, 20-year veteran at Smart & Final. “It’s time the company sees us as essential and not expendable. We demand the dignity that comes with knowing you have a job the next day and the respect of a good union contract. We will accept nothing less.”

The two warehouses on strike serve as distribution centers for over 250 Smart & Final grocery stores in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Northern Mexico.

Last year, over 600 dedicated employees at Smart & Final’s warehouses in Commerce and Riverside, California, successfully voted to join Teamsters Local 630 despite facing a harsh anti-union campaign from their management in both elections, which notably included the company making its closure announcement just a little over a week before the Riverside election in an attempt to scare employees away from unionizing with the Teamsters.

This is the second unfair labor practice strike held by these workers.

The strike coincides with a growing trend of unrest in the grocery industry, where large grocery chains continue to report record profits, often at the expense of their workers and the public, as the cost of food escalates.

For more than 80 years, Teamsters Local 630 has represented California workers in warehousing, food services, liquor, food processing, dairy, and more industries. Find out more at teamsters630.org.

Contact:
Christian Castro, (310) 857-9817
[email protected]

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SOURCE Teamsters Local 630