Imamura and others picketing outside of the Albertsons on Glenoaks
Boulevard each pitched in a few dollars for their Christmas Eve
party, which included their picket signs, a few large pizzas and a
salad. It was a far cry from previous parties.
Picketers did not demonstrate on Christmas Day.
Since Oct. 11, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons employees -- many who
work part time -- have been on strike in response to increased
medical insurance costs, which they claim will take big chunks out of
their paychecks. Representatives of the companies that own the
markets say that in an industry with low profit margins and intense
competition from big-box wholesalers and independent chains,
employees must give up more of their wages for medical benefits.
Raquel Hernandez, a service deli manager at a Burbank Ralphs who
picketed in Glendale on Friday, said being locked out of her place of
employment the past few months is taking its toll. Hernandez had to
tell her 11-year-old daughter that she had no gifts because the
family of seven children had to cut back on expenses.
"My little one was really sad," Rodriquez said. "It was the first
year with no presents."
Fortunately, many picketers prepared themselves and their families
for a holiday season with a little less spirit and fewer material
"We cut down on expenses," said Chuck Sheardown, an assistant
merchandiser at the Burbank Ralphs who was picketing at the Glendale
Albertsons. "But we are in debt now."
Some picketers, though, said they could not send money home to
relatives living in other countries. Other families could not afford
Christmas trees. But even as melancholy picketers lamented what they
said were further cuts in their strike pay, the holidays did bring an
increased awareness of things to be thankful for, some said.
A group of about 20 picketers at the Glenoaks Albertsons quickly
pointed to Irene Fulgoni, a retired 33-year employee of Albertsons
and its predecessor, Lucky. Each day since Oct. 11, Fulgoni has
filled the back of her minivan with homemade cookies, muffins and
warm drinks and driven from her home in Eagle Rock to her former
market to serve striking colleagues she calls her friends.
"It's important to show them that somebody cares," she said.