El Super Workers Escalate Protests

The grocery chain was recently ordered to pay over $180,000 for wage theft violations by the California Labor Commissioner.


PARAMOUNT, CA—Workers of the El Super chain of grocery stores descended on their corporate headquarters in Paramount today, demanding that the company return to the bargaining table and put an end to its unfair labor practices. Protestors rallied just one week after Bodega Latina Corporation, El Super’s parent company, was cited for multiple wage theft violations. The Division of Labor Enforcement Standards has issued citations levying a total of $180,668 in penalties for a variety of illegal, off-the-clock work.


Early in the morning, El Super workers and their allies rallied in front of a store in the San Fernando Valley community of Arleta, delivering a letter addressed to El Super President and CEO, Carlos A. Smith. The demand was clear – that the company resume contract negotiations with UFCW and address workers’ concerns.


After that, the workers went to the El Super market in Panorama City, followed by stores in North Hollywood, East Los Angeles, and 11 other locations. The protestors, who were transported in five buses, converged around 4:00 pm at El Super store in Paramount, in southeast Los Angeles County. These actions were replicated in 40 out of 49 stores throughout California, Nevada and Arizona.


“These stores are all understaffed, and supervisors would assign us more work than we could cover during our regular shifts. El Super didn’t give me enough hours, and I would feel pressure to work off-the-clock to finish all I was told to do,” said Antonio Jimenez, who worked for nearly two years as a baker at the El Super store in Highland Park.


The protestors were joined by faith-based and elected leaders from across the state of California, along with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, which represents a portion of El Super’s workforce. “Workers shouldn’t have to fight to receive what they have rightfully earned, and these citations should ensure that El Super finally honors this basic legal, moral obligation to its own employees,” said Rick Icaza, President of UFCW Local 770. “It’s time for El Super to do the right thing, and end its irresponsible, unlawful behavior.”


UFCW local unions represent 600 El Super employees, who have been without a union contract since September 2013. In addition, the U.S. Government has filed suit against El Super in federal court in both California and Arizona to seek injunctive relief against it for violating federal labor law.