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Raley’s Questions Workers’ Support For Strike

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WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There are new questions being raised about whether workers at Raley’s really support their strike or if union bosses are orchestrating the walkout.

Using an hidden camera, CBS13 crossed the picket lines at the Raley’s in West Sacramento and one in Natomas on Monday to see if what Raley’s management is saying holds true: Are customers being harassed?

We got a plea from a picketer, nowhere near harassment, but a friendly request to shop elsewhere.

That’s a huge difference from a video posted on YouTube showing a supermarket showdown as picketers got in the face of a delivery truck driver making a stop at a Nob Hill grocery store in Alameda. Nob Hill is part of the Raley’s family of stores on strike.

A Raley’s spokesperson told us this has been par for the course since the strike was called last weekend, and for shoppers as well.

“We’ve had people called names, harassed, verbally intimidated,” store spokesman John Segale said. “It’s gone from an informational picket to really trying to intimidate and influence people.”

The biggest influence, Raley’s says, has been on its employees. It claims 64 percent of one-time striking workers have already returned to work.

One Raley’s worker who is not supporting the strike backs up that claim.

“They’re starting to realize that this is a fight that they’re not going to win,” John Krouse said. “I mean, Raley’s pays their bills and that’s it.”

Raley’s also questions who’s really on the picket lines.

“In many instances they are not employees of Raley’s, they’re not picketing employees. They’re friends, other union activists or in some cases professional strikers,” Segale said.

One picketer Monday did admit to having no connection with the labor dispute, calling himself a volunteer. Why was he on the picket lines?

“To give them moral support,” he said.

We did find real striking workers hesitant to talk at first.

“Here’s my thing,” one striker said before stopping himself. “I’m being told not to speak.”

He did eventually say this: “I very much believe in what I’m doing. That’s what I’ll tell the customers. I very much believe in what I’m doing and why I’m here.”

The union responded to Raley’s claims with a statement to CBS13 stating: “Our members reject these smears from Raley’s propaganda department. In fact, management’s brutish intimidation of Raley’s employees is one of the provocations that launched this strike in the first place.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers union resumed talks with Raley’s Sunday with the all-important holiday shopping season right around the corner.

The company’s current proposal calls for a wage freeze, holding courtesy clerks at $9.20 an hour and senior clerks at $21.13 an hour, eliminating Sunday and holiday premium pay and the elimination of health plan benefits for retirees who qualify for Medicare.

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