Texas grocery worker: Fighting to keep our heads up

Here in my section of Texas, grocery store workers like us are fighting to keep our heads up. As far as California is concerned, we haven’t really been able to do much because there is a growing belief that workers in Texas may soon be facing the same situation, i.e. taking away our health benefits, overtime privileges, etc.

In fact, at my particular store, most of our workers who are seniors have been facing age discrimination on a large scale. They are being assigned to stocking tasks that are difficult for some older people to complete.

Even though management isn’t being too aggressive about it yet, it seems obvious that they are trying to get rid of the more senior employees to replace them with younger recruits that they won’t have to pay as much. To them, it’s not about work experience or the environment created by friendly and older employees. It’s about money. They can hire two new people who are desperate for jobs for about the same amount of money that they would be paying an employee who has worked for them for 20 years, and it is our belief that that is exactly what the upper management wants to do.

Our local UFCW chapter sent the Los Angeles chapter a letter showing our support, and I have heard that some money was contributed, but as far as I know, not much more than that has been done.

I know literally a dozen people with strong work experience who are working at any job that they can find. It really makes me sick sometimes to hear about the strength of our economy when I know people with college degrees who run into a bad financial situation and have to work three or four part-time jobs just to make ends meet, and the management at these jobs only look at these people as numbers and not people who are trying to support their families. Management knows that they are in a desperate situation, and they take advantage of it.

For example, I have a relative who works at Wal-Mart (strongly anti-union) and he is forced to work late almost every single day. Whenever he has tried to refuse, the manager on the scene always tells him “there’s 50 people out there who would love to have your job.” So what choice does he have, especially with kids? None!

And that is part of the reason why I have decided to join the CPUSA. The other is that, with the growing apathy of corporations towards their workers, I feel that in the future we may be facing some unrest on behalf of the lower and worker class workers in this country.

If the major retail and food stores continue to overturn their senior workers and those who may be a little “slower” than the majority, they will be taking away the main places of employment for these people, because in reality, places such as Wal-Mart are realistically the best jobs that some of these people can get.

There’s no bit of telling how bad the outcome of this could be 10 or 20 years down the road. Without jobs, many will probably turn to crime, and most will definitely face extreme poverty. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Sincerely, T. Plescence, Houston, Texas (pww@pww.org)