Day 2 — Site Visit to Southside Grocery Store

Several dozen foundation program officers and advocacy groups joined us to go to South Side grocery store as part of our convening to discuss how to best improve the lives of low-wage workers. We met with grocery workers and conducted fact-finding to support their worker organizing campaign.

Employees of the regional Giant Eagle Supermarket chain have been advocating for full-time positions and increased wages for years. Organizers from Pittsburgh United shared how their members have been building the local workers’ rights campaign and Worker Organizing Table that has been fighting to give workers a voice, raise wages and benefits, and lift up communities. They recently launched a Fight for 15 campaign to win a $15 wage for 5,000 workers at Giant Eagle.

Photo: Tom Hoffman, Sierra Club

We heard from Stephanie Fello, a prepared-foods clerk at the South Side Giant Eagle, who rose through the ranks of the union representing these workers. Stephanie described Giant Eagle's unfair labor practices, which include refusing to promote employees to full-time positions despite over-scheduling them, and penalizing employees who have started organizing for better working conditions.

Stephanie said that she and her coworkers are “always struggling to maintain our lives, our personal lives, our housing, or situations with family members who need help.”

At the site, we met four of Stephanie's coworkers and organized small group discussions to speak directly to them. They spoke of their challenges of making ends meet on their wages and how poorly the store management treats employees. The discussion also covered the workers' interest in supporting other issues like the lack of access to public transportation and increasing housing rents in Pittsburgh.

A local reporter was invited to document the site visit. Read the article here in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.