Grocery Workers Valeria and Daniela who want to organize Valeria and her mother Daniela both work at a Latino Grocery Store which is part of a larger Southern California supermarket chain. Valeria is a shy and soft spoken 24-year-old who aspires to be a social worker. She and her mother Daniela live in a small home at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in North San Diego County.
They love their tranquil community and caring neighbors who look out for one another. Valeria’s mother has worked at the grocery store for 8 years and helped Valeria get a job as a bagger 4 years ago. Now, Valeria is the Scan Coordinator, ensuring that the prices on every single item in the store are correct.
It’s a big responsibility and during the busiest times of the year, the work days can seem endless. Valeria helps her mother with as much as she can but finds is difficult to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. When asked what she would do with a little extra money, her eyes fill with tears, and she says “I’d buy my mom a birthday present”. Valeria’s father passed away when she was only 4 years old. Valeria’s mom tells her she doesn’t need a birthday present but she is a strong and amazing single mother and Valeria would like to give her even a small gift to express her gratitude for all the sacrifices she makes.
When Daniela is asked what she would do with a little extra money, her eyes too filled with tears and she says “I’d help Valeria pay for school”. If she could afford it, Valeria would go back to school right away, but at this time, it’s simply not possible. Daniela’s eyes reflect the sadness in her heart as she hears Valeria say she can’t afford to go to school. “My dream is for her to go to school and have a better future”, Daniela says.
They find strength in one another and are committed to bring change to their workplace. They want to organize and form a union, so together they can lift their voices for justice, dignity, and respect. “The store doesn’t value us as workers or as people”, says Daniela, “they set such high sales goals, and it creates a lot of stress for workers. Recently I was very sick, and because I handle food I wanted to take some time off to get better. I was told I needed a doctor’s note to take any time off, so I went to see a doctor. Because we don’t have paid sick days we have to use our vacation time. Even though we use our vacation time and have a doctor’s note we still get points noted against us, which can be used to fire us.
When I received my paycheck for the period when I was sick I noticed I hadn’t been paid for that time off. I had to fight for my wages and it was 2 weeks before I received my pay. We want our customers to know how we are treated, so they can support us in our struggle.”
Story courtesy of the Interfaith Council for Worker Justice of San Diego.