One look at crossing the line

This past Sunday I spent my typical amount of time grocery shopping.

During normal circumstances this type of activity is a routine household necessity that many of us complete almost without thought let alone mention.  However, on this Sunday afternoon the circumstances were far from normal.

As I write this column for submission, the countdown clock for the regional grocery worker strike deadline continues in its countdown.

Having lived as a union affiliated family for the last 20-plus years, I have learned the double edges of the sword called “strike.”

On one hand, it is a worker controlled option that can be used to press for future worker rights, safety improvements, wages and benefits.

On the other hand, going on strike can have such a negative impact on a company while it is occurring that the recovery period, once it is over, can also have some extremely negative impacts on the workers involved.

In the 20 years of our own family’s union involvement, we have struggled through a strike that lasted for several weeks.

At the time we were fortunate as a young couple just starting out, to be living in an economy that was on the upswing.

We had been setting money aside toward the down payment to purchase our very first home. It was that savings that allowed us to weather the considerable impacts of the strike and avoid any negative impacts to our credit and our financial future.

It did, however, take a full year for us to recover and build back up the money we needed to finally become first-time homeowners.

Bremerton grocery stores are the lifelines of goods and services to the surrounding neighborhoods. Many of the employees who work at these stores are also friends and neighbors.

Strikes can rip a community apart. Friends and coworkers can become adversaries overnight. Community members with limited transportation options can face either going without the groceries and medications they need or feel forced to cross the strike line because they have no other options.

Customers will go to other stores and explore new options. Some of these customers will find that the grass is just as green in other locations and will not think to come back once the strike is over if they are happily being served by a willing competitor.

As a union family we will not cross these kinds of lines. We will respectfully keep our distance as the companies and the employees involved work through their negotiations and established process.

We will take our business to stores not involved in the strike.

It is our hope as a family, in nearly all of these situations, that at the last minute a strike can and should be avoided.

Colleen Smidt is a longtime resident of Bremerton and writes weekly on issues that affect residents in and around Bremerton.


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