2004-12-23 14:35

Letters Work

Letter-writing works, people.

Several months back, Safeway, Albertsons and Kroger forced their Southern California workers into an incredibly unfavorable contract that drastically cut new workers' pay and all workers' benefits. This resulted in a big, messy strike that lasted for months and cost the stores a lot in terms of both money and publicity.

So when it came time to negotiate a Northern California contract, what did they do? They proposed essentially the same terrible contract.

This is where the letter-writing part comes in.

A few days ago, the union and the grocery chains reached an agreement that preserves pay and benefits. The article states:

The Bay Area talks have become progressively more tense as disenchanted labor leaders have stepped up efforts to organize consumer boycotts, hoping to pressure supermarket management before the workers' extended contract expires Jan. 15.

I didn't hear about the organized efforts but I did write a polite letter to Safeway (including my real club card number, not the one I actually used). The letter said that I was disappointed to hear they'd proposed a similar contract and that unless they backed down I would not go to Safeway again. It looks like enough people did the same thing to pressure Safeway into dropping the whole idea.

I'm telling you this story partly because I'm happy things worked out this way and I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and empowered. The other reason I'm telling you this is because of this story that's hit the wires today. Reportedly, several leading Democrats are backing a former Congressman named Tim Roemer for DNC chair. Roemer is anti-abortion and believes the party needs to soften its stance on abortion to win back swing voters. The part I found particularly appalling is this:

Roemer is running with the encouragement of the party's two highest-ranking members of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Nancy Pelosi, who's a quintessential Bay Area liberal, is getting ready to sell out the base, and for a really wrongheaded idea -- that the Democrats can gain votes by softening their stance on abortion rights when something like 2/3 of Americans are pro-choice. The one issue that most Democrats are in agreement with the majority on and that the party unquestionably owns these days, and they're going to trade that away to try to win swing voters? That's insane.

So I picked up my phone and called Pelosi's office to ask why she's doing this. The guy who answered said that she hasn't officially endorsed anyone, so they can't comment yet, but Pelosi's totally up for supporting abortion rights and by the way, could they get my address that's within her district?

Here's what I ended up doing -- and what I would suggest every pro-choice Democrat do, if you're in a Democrat's district. Especially if your Senator or representative makes a lot of noise about being pro-choice. Especially ESPECIALLY if you're in Pelosi's district, because she's not gonna listen to it from me.

Call up their office. Ask if they've made an endorsement yet for DNC chair. (Neither my rep nor the one senator I've called so far had, as far as their office was willing to say.) Then talk about your concerns that the Democrats not totally fuck this one up. The way I put it was that the majority of Americans are pro-choice and endorsing a DNC leader who was against abortion rights was going "in the wrong direction."

This is something that our representatives really need to hear about. I don't want the Bay Area delegation (or Democrats in general) to follow sheeplike behind Pelosi in an ass-backwards show of party unity. If you agree with me, take 10 minutes to hassle the Democrats you last voted for (see http://www.congress.org for contact info) and make sure they don't sell you out.


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