Workers Strike at East Bay Safeway Stores Seeking Higher Wages


Alison Lucha

Protesters with on the sidewalk getting the attention of passing cars. (Alison Lucha/The Inquirer)

Alison Lucha, Staff member

On a Friday late last month, Contra Costa Boulevard stood flooded with heavy traffic. A group of Safeway workers had assembled in the store’s parking lot to strike over dissatisfaction with the company’s policies. 

Chanting slogans like “One job should be enough!” the workers circled the lot, preventing shoppers from accessing the store, and drawing the attention of nearby police who arrived on the scene to ensure order. 

“We are here today to let the company know that we mean business,” said John Bueno, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, which organized the strike. “We want a new contract for our 14,000 members.” 

As the Bay Area struggles with high living costs, Safeway workers say their employer has refused to update their wages and give part-time employees a chance to work full-time. Anger among workers has been growing for years. 

“Don’t shop at Safeway today!” was written all over the flyers handed out by UFCW5 members.

Alex Deshner, a business major at Diablo Valley College, has attended two rallies to support his parents who have been working at Safeway for 30 years.

“For me personally, I have been in two rallies, the one in Orinda and here at Pleasant Hill. My parents have been waiting for a new contract because Safeway doesn’t want to give them more money,” Deshner said. 

UFCW5 is asking its customers to support their informational picket and shop at other UFCW5 union-represented grocery stores. These grocery stores include FoodMax on Monument Boulevard in Concord, Lunardi’s Markets on Pleasant Hill Road in Walnut Creek, and Nob Hill on Center Avenue in Martinez.