PM BlogSpace Weekly Memo: union struggles, Walmart greed

Events of the week include the Prince George's Planning Board steamrolled by Walmart greed and Giant's principal union, UFCW Local 400, fights the effects of a faraway merger of the grocery's European corporate owners.

Greetings Progressive Marylanders,

Welcome to the weekly catch-up and summary memo from Progressive Maryland.

Since our last post a lot has happened. We continue in these ongoing projects as they develop:

  • Progressive Maryland helped CWA workers who are on strike against Verizon by hiring them in get-out-the-vote efforts. We hope the strike ends soon, but in the meantime workers need support, including folks to walk picket lines in solidarity.

  • In addition, Giant workers in the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 rallied May 11 against a proposed merger between Giant’s corporate owners, a Dutch company, and the foreign corporation that owns the militantly anti-union Food Lion grocery chain. UFCW members and many supporters, including Progressive Maryland, declared at the rally that the threatened loss of 800 union jobs at Giant would happen over their live bodies. See the full story below, including Progressive Maryland’s presence at the rally. UFCW workers will need support as this campaign continues, including letting your local Giant store managers know you go to that store because it’s a solid union shop.

  • The movement to hold Walmart accountable in Prince George’s, both the proposed enlargement of the Capital Plaza site and disrupting the Duvall neighborhood with a proposed new store, took an anticipated step last week. The Planning Board’s May 5 public hearing on the Capital Plaza plan ended in approval by the Planning Board, as expected, triggering an appeal by community members to the District Council, the final authority on such plans.

  • Progressive Maryland’s participation in the People’s Summit, scheduled in Chicago June 17-19, includes developing transportation to the event. Watch here for information on how you can attend this important conclave to make the outlines of the Bernie Sanders campaign sustainable as political change and a political/social movement.

The UFCW Local 400 Rally: a hundred-plus UFCW Giant workers and their allies set off in the rain from the union headquarters near the New Carrollton Metrorail station to confront Giant executives at their nearby office headquarters. They were sent off by short talks by Local 400 President Mark Federici and Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland’s executive director, among others.

Stafford told the crowd that as Federici said, the union was “under attack” but it was “not alone… we’re all under attack on a global scale,” referencing the European corporations that own the US groceries. “Those who don’t know us are making decision that cost our livelihoods, so we have to be absolutely united.”

At the Giant headquarters a delegation entered the building to present petitions and demands that “not one job” be lost in the merger. While Federici and other union and community representatives were inside, the rain-soaked protesters serenaded the Giant office with chants like “Not One Job” and the syncopated “Workers/are/outside the store/workers outside the store (say what?).”

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Since the last Memo, the PM Blogspace has carried not only the news about Walmart activism and support for union struggles, but

An account of two meetings, both held in Prince George’s less than a week apart, that showed quite different perspectives on environmental justice and its racial component.

And here’s the Monday Memo for May 2, 2016, with links to PM BlogSpace posts you may have missed.

Stick with Progressive Maryland to stay informed, and with our Facebook page to stay updated as the primary election approaches. As always, the hard day to day work of citizenship and fighting for ordinary people is on the table. Power yields nothing without a demand, Frederick Douglass said, and being organized gives us power to fight back.

AND REMEMBER THIS BLOGSPACE IS FOR THE PROGRESSIVE VOICES OF MARYLAND. Want to include your voice? Send a submission, or questions, to the moderator at woodlanham@gmail.com