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Bay Area Walmart Workers Involved In Symbolic Walkout

Union organizers are focusing on the Bay Area because of the openings of Walmart Neighborhood Markets in the area, the first of which was opened in San Ramon.

The opening of a Walmart Neightborhood Market in San Ramon last month is one of the reasons some Walmart workers went on strike at five Bay Area stores on Tuesday, union organizers said.

A handful of workers at five Bay Area Walmarts — in San Leandro, Richmond, Oakland, Fremont and San Jose — are at the center of a historic effort to organize Walmart, which has been non-union for 50 years.

At publication time Walmart had not yet replied to an interview request.

The local walkouts are part of a symbolic nationwide campaign involving 28 stores in a dozen states, all coordinated by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

Mike Henneberry, spokesperson for UFCW Local 5 in San Jose, offered the union's story.

Henneberry said the walkouts are designed to call attention to the organizing effort. There are no plans to walk picket lines because the union hasn't gotten to that point, he said.

The UFCW is focusing on the Bay Area because that's where Walmart is just starting to open a new category of smaller stores -- Walmart Neighborhood Markets -- that will compete directly with unionized grocers such as Safeway and Lucky, Henneberry said.

Walmart operates about 167 of these smaller stores nationwide but the first Neighborhood Market in Northern California opened last month in San Ramon.

Walmart plans to opened another store in San Jose in October and another Neighborhood Market in Pleasanton mid-2013. 

The UFCW was particularly irate about Walmart's decision to build such a store in Pleasanton because that city is headquarters to unionized Safeway.

"Walmart's new move into the traditional grocery store sector is a departure in tactics on their part and a direct threat to our members," UFCW Local 5 President Ron Lind said in February when the Pleasanton store was up for consideration.

The Pleasanton city council approved Walmart's plans by a 4-1 vote.

A UFCW spokeswoman said many of the workers involved in today's walkout are meeting in Walmart's headquarters city of Bentonville, Arkansas, to plan their next steps.

Are you a Walmart shopper? Have you been to the Neighborhood Walmart in San Ramon? What do you think of the organizing effort?

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Carolyn October 10, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Thank you well said! I've experienced similar after paying into union dues for almost 38 years!
Debora Killeen October 10, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I really don't see a problem in having both union and non-union stores in any area. Granted all the mom and pop stores are gone now because of all those stores anyway. Walmart has given much needed jobs to those in need and Safeway, Luckys, Nob Hill etc. are still supplying jobs. There are enough people in the community to shop at all stores. I don't see people driving from Livermore to shop for groceries in San Ramon! If all the companies play their cards right(and I don't mean playing poker in the breakroom) they can all work together in supporting the community with food etc. You can find something wrong with everything if you really are looking for it. Enjoy the spice of life and stop complaining. Go out and make a difference in the community where it really is needed like the Drug Epidemic,
Sandy P. October 10, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I have shopped recently at the SR Walmart, and was pleased with their selection of everyday products. I found pasta brands I was looking for as well as the regular Raug, Classico pasta sauces and what not. Wide selection of Kellogs, Quaker and other popular cereal brands too. Similarly it had sufficient variety of dog and cat food, also found the Garnier and other popular haircare products & facial creams that I needed. Overall, pleased!
William October 10, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Yeah like that's real opinion. And I used to work at that location when it was Albertsons for a couple of years. Sorry, I just don't see it doing well. No bakery, no deli. Just a very sterile feeling with very meh selections. I'll probably go back again and see if it's changed because I like to eat at Mexxis a little ways down. And I wouldn't feed my pets any major brand pet food from any chain store especially from Wal Mart. The kind of pet food sold by large grocer chains are filled with by products and fillers. Pet food like that should only be used if you want your pets to have a shorter life span due to kidney failure.
Citizen and lifetime taxpayer October 11, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I got paid minimum wage as required by state & federal law. I received overtime as required by state & federal law. I received breaks as required by state & federal law. I had NO CHOICE BUT TO JOIN THE UNION to work there. I WAS FORCED TO. Unions support healthcare nurses etc to WALK OUT ON SICK PEOPLE DESPITE THE SICK PEOPLES NEED FOR CARE AND BEING A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH for them. Unions do no more than protect lazy people and increase costs and risks for us all.

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