[Marxism] California Grocery Strike

lshan at bcn.net lshan at bcn.net
Fri Feb 6 17:37:20 MST 2004

I sent this to an e-mail list for former members of SLATE, the UC Berkeley
student political party of the late 1950s and 1960s. I had also sent it to
e-mails of various chapter of the California Green Party. Most of those
bounced. Possibly some SPAM protection against unknown e-mailers.

I am sending this historical note for your information and possible
emulation regarding the California Grocery strike. I was a participant in
this action and can personally confirm the accuracy of the following
description. It is taken from Jo Freeman's web site:

After Mel's, CORE took the lead by organizing a "shop-in" at Lucky's
supermarkets. Lucky's was an old adversary, having been picketed
successfully by CORE as long ago as 1948. CORE had negotiated another
agreement the previous summer, but no additional jobs for Negroes appeared.
In February 1964 CORE set up picket lines at several markets. A week later
it started the "shop-in." Although new to Berkeley students, it was a
classic form of non-violent disruption; all the actions were legal but they
significantly interfered with Lucky's ability to conduct business.
Demonstrators went shopping, piling their carts with goods, and changed
their minds at the check out counter. The cashiers were left with ringing
cash registers and a counter full of unwanted goods. The managers had no way
of separating the real shoppers from the ringers. And the real shoppers
didn't want to stand in lines forever waiting for cash registers to be
cleared and goods to be returned to the shelves. After a few days of this
the new Mayor of San Francisco, John Shelly, negotiated an agreement in
which the parent company promised to hire at least sixty Negroes and ended
the shop-in. A few months later the Berkeley Lucky's closed forever.

Lucky supermarkets, of course, continued. Years later it was successfully
sued on behalf of women employees charging a similar pattern of

from Brian Shannon

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