Friday, November 27, 2009


The UFCW - Local 5 and several community organizations have embarked on the Justice for Mercado Workers Campaign to empower Latino and Asian supermarket workers through labor organizing activities. Coalition members provide expertise not only in the field of workplace issues but also on issues of housing, civil rights, taxes, immigration and healthcare. This comprehensive approach to union organizing provides workers with important tools to improve the lives of their families.

Employees may experience difficult situations due to the lack of proper meal and rest breaks, poverty wages, verbal or psychological abuse. Benefits such as paid vacations and holidays, medical coverage, and defined pension plans — are practically non existing. Also, overtime and double-time pay violations are common occurrences. For the most part, non-union mercados do not offer competitive wages or benefits like those enjoyed by UFCW members.

A significant number of the estimated 30,000 California mercado workers labor in the Bay Area. Most mercado workers are recent immigrants from Latin American and Asia.

Seminars, forums and rallies are often organized by the Coalition to persuade local mercado operators, legislators, and the public in general about the benefits of having unionized mercado workers in our communities. The Coalition seeks to achieve its goals by implementing both Collective Bargaining Agreements and the Mercado Code of Conduct.


UFCW Local-5 is assisting mercado workers in the creation of the Mercado Workers Association. Through the Association workers themselves can cooperate, communicate and take action to improve work conditions. Members of the Mercado Workers Association get a free membership card designed for identification purposes.

Overview of Mercado Industry

  • The retail grocery is a $500 billion business
  • There are 70,000 grocery stores nationwide among them Ahold, Kroger, and Supervalue.
    The 50 largest companies generate 70 percent of industry revenue.\
  • States with the most concentration of mercados are California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, and most recently New York, Florida and other east coast states.
  • There are 500 major retail grocery-supplier companies that operate 7,000 grocery stores and employ 300,000 workers.
  • An increasing number of retail grocery stores are mercados which primarily operate in local Latino and Asian enclaves.
  • There is an estimate of 30,000 California mercado workers.
  • The mercados in the L.A. county area account for at least 10% of the market share.
  • Gonzalez / NorthGate Mercados – 30
  • Vallarta (this Company or Mi Pueblo may take over Su Vianda)– 25
  • Superior Super - 24
  • Sea Food City – 15 stores (4 in NorCal); employs about 1500 workers.
  • Shun Fat Supermarkets – 10 stores (2 in our area) and employs about 800 workers.
  • Lion Supermarkets – 6 stores in our area; employs about 500 workers.
  • Ranch 99 Supermarkets – 31 stores in TX, WA, NV and CA. There are 12 stores in our area which employ about 1,500 workers.
  • County Square Markets – 3 stores, with about 250 employees
  • MI PUEBLO – 13 Stores and (3 pending); about 2,500 employees; about $200 million annual sales revenues.
  • Chavez Markets – 6 stores with about 300 employees.
  • Plenty of smaller mercados