Yesterday I walked the picket line of striking workers at the Stop and Shop in my neighborhood.
These workers took a principled stand for important economic reasons. The workers I spoke with on the picket were fighting for continued access to decent healthcare, wages that they could live on, and simply to keep the amount of leave days that they already earned.
Management had been seeking concessions on healthcare coverage, wanted to take back money in wages, and wanted to reduce the number of leave days that workers had access to.
Their rationale? Some other workers at other grocery store chains made less and had worse healthcare.
Is that really a good reason to ask for concessions? No it is not. The company made 2 billion $ in profit last year and the shareholders voted to give themselves an 11% raise last week.
I applaud these workers for taking such a principled stance and wielding their collective power to bring the full-attention of the community and press to bear on these unjust economics.
Folks in the FI/RE community talk about savings rate, about *individually* negotiating higher salary increases, negotiating incoming salary, and outgoing severances. About being frugal and shopping around for the smartest and best opportunities for life and health insurance, rent/mortgages, cheapest cell phone plans, etc.
And while that is all very intelligent stuff to do, I submit to anyone reading this that the power of collective bargaining is truly transformative. I predict that these workers, after taking this action, will secure the financial needs that they as a group decided were worth striking over.
We all need to resist consumerism and make smart choices with our economic situation, but that alone is an individual response to a collective problem. The downfalls of capitalism can and must be addressed communally, through political means and through worker struggle.
All power to the strikers of Stop and Shop.