Can Grocery Workers Take Back Their Union?


On a gray October evening, a group of insurgents huddles around a table in an upscale diner near Sea-Tac airport. Their mission is to revolutionize the grocery workers’ union. Faye Guenther, president of UFCW Local 3000, leads this audacious effort from the epicenter of Washington’s labor movement, a three-story office building in Des Moines, just south of downtown Seattle. Here, the neon blue cursive on the lobby wall spells out their motto: “Educate, agitate, organize.”


The Battle Plans

Guenther and her fellow organizers have been conscious of their union’s failings for years. Over beers, they grumble about the UFCW’s lack of investment in organizing and its disconnected international leadership. But they’re not just complaining; they’re plotting. Their goal is to root out the rotten elements holding back the UFCW, overthrow them, and revolutionize one of the largest private-sector unions in the country.

Essential Workers’ Struggle

Grocery workers have been essential throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, yet their wages and working conditions have lagged. As inflation soars, supermarket corporations rake in record profits. Ahead of the expiration of their union contract, 60,000 grocery workers at Kroger and Albertson’s subsidiaries in California are demanding a $5 wage increase over three years, improved safety, better staffing, and an end to the two-tier system of workers. James Peete, a food clerk at Ralphs, describes the grueling conditions during the pandemic: understaffed departments, long hours, and pressure to ramp up production.

The Opportunity for Change

John Grant, president of UFCW Local 770, sees this moment as an opportunity to rebalance the work in the grocery industry. These jobs are used to sustain families and allow workers to live the American dream. Now, they’ve been ripped apart and gutted. The pandemic revealed how indispensable grocery workers are to their communities, yet their wages fall short. Guenther and her insurgents aim to change that. Their battle plans may be risky, but nobody said changing the world would be easy.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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