Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
BOSTON – With cut-out smiling figures of Barack and Michelle Obama in the background, two striking warehouse workers told a crowd gathered in Boston on Saturday the horrifying reality they face at the hands of Shaw’s Supermarket management. One young man’s wife is six months pregnant and on April 1, 2010, Shaw’s completely cut off the health insurance benefits for the family. The young father to be asks for support for the strike so that all workers can have their health benefits fairly restored. The other worker explained that his mom suffers from back problems and other health issues that now cannot be treated. Her pain is evident in her son’s appeal.
It’s a new level of cruelty directed at the Shaw-Star Market workers, and even the appeals of local and regional health professionals for restoration of the health benefits has been rebuffed by the grocery chain, owned by the Minnesota based retail giant SuperValu, Inc.
As reported in the Boston Globe:
Members of the Massachusetts medical community are calling on Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. to reinstate health care benefits for the 300 striking workers from the company’s Methuen distribution plant. “This is just completely unacceptable,’’ said Benjamin Day, executive director of the health care advocacy group Mass-Care. Right now, the workers and their families are uninsured, he said… Health care costs are part of what drove workers from the Methuen warehouse to reject the company’s contract proposal and go on strike March 7.
Shaw’s cut off health care coverage on April 1 and has said it plans to hire permanent replacement workers for the facility.
In the meantime, pregnant moms go without vital prenatal care. Shaw’s apparently thinks it’s acceptable to punish the striking workers, their aging parents and their future children if that’s what it takes to make higher profits.
Let’s show them values still matter. Their workers still matter. Let’s take our business elsewhere.
In case anyone is concerned about the company’s ability to make a buck if it pays fair wages and benefits, take a gander at the list of holdings of SuperValu and make a choice to support these workers and their families by not shopping at any of these stores:
• Acme 134 locations (DE, Northern MD, NJ, Eastern PA)
• Acme Express, Jewel Express, Albertsons Express, and Farm Fresh Fuel Express 117 fuel centers (Nationwide)
• Albertsons 564 locations (Southern CA, ID, MT, ND, TX, Southern NV (and Elko), OR, UT, WA and WY)
• bigg's 12 locations (Cincinnati and Northern KY)
• Bristol Farms 16 locations (Southern California and San Francisco)
• Cub Foods 83 locations of which 31 are franchised (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, WI, OH, and IA.)
• Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy 45 locations (Hampton Roads and Richmond-Petersburg, VA, plus Elizabeth City, NC)
• The Market 3 locations (Hampton Roads and Richmond, VA)
• Hornbacher's 6 locations (Fargo-Moorhead, ND/MN)
• Jewel and Jewel-Osco 198 locations in IL, eastern IA, northwestern IN and southeastern WI)
• Lazy Acres 1 location Santa Barbara, CA
• Lucky 5 locations (Las Vegas and Southern CA)
• Osco Pharmacy and Sav-on Pharmacy 722 pharmacies (Nationwide)
• Save-A-Lot 1292 locations of which 860 are franchised (Nationwide)
• Shaw's and Star Market 194 locations (Boston, MA, ME, NH, RI and VT)
• Shop 'n Save 41 locations (St. Louis, MO, Southern IL and Springfield, IL) not to be confused with the Pittsburgh-area Shop 'n Save stores
• Shoppers Food & Pharmacy 62 locations (Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and Northern VA)
• Supervalu Pharmacies 109 pharmacies (Nationwide)
And here’s what Shaw’s wants the public to believe is their mission, though they could streamline that statement significantly to say what the mission really is and that is profit, pure and simple, at any cost – even if it is made by denying care to pregnant moms:
“Shaw's Mission and Values Statement
Valuing diversity means appreciating the many advantages that different people contribute to the richness of our culture. It means behaving in a way that fosters respect for individual differences and the treatment of each person based on his or her own merit.
For Shaw's, valuing diversity means the inclusion of all of our associates' and customers' differences and needs as part of our overall business strategy. A corporation whose workforce accurately represents its audience is one positioned to thrive and grow.”
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