Workers seeking better wages and working conditions demonstrated at a St. Paul SuperAmerica store Tuesday, then briefly occupied the lobby of the company’s headquarters in Woodbury.
The actions called attention to problems affecting hourly workers at the Minnesota-based convenience store chain, including low pay, erratic schedules and favoritism.
Participants included members of Working America, a membership organization for people who don’t have access to a union, and the Greater Minnesota Worker Center, a group seeking economic and social justice for low-wage workers in St. Cloud and the surrounding communities.
SuperAmerica worker James Quaye was among those who traveled from St. Cloud to take part in the Twin Cities events. A student at St. Cloud State University, he said the company’s scheduling policies make it difficult to plan his education.
“You don’t know how many hours you will have from week to week,” he added. “That makes it hard to support a family.”
At SuperAmerica headquarters, workers sought a meeting with President Jack Helmick, but a company representative said Helmick was not available.
“No more asking,” said Alisha Williams of the Greater Minnesota Worker Center. “We’ve been asking for months. So today we’re demanding a meeting.”
Workers and supporters then sat down in the lobby and chanted, “We’re not leaving until we get a meeting!” and “Hey, hey, SA, low pay is not OK!”
They presented the company with a list of demands, including:
• Instituting two weeks’ notice of work schedules for all employees;
• Establishing a Health and Safety committee tasked with improving workplace safety and wellness standards at the chain’s locations; and
• Instituting a company-wide equity policy that ensures women and people of color receive pay and opportunities for advancement equal to that of their counterparts.
“I enjoy my job and I work hard, but the low pay and unfair working conditions are a source of stress,” said Makaida Garrett, a SuperAmerica employee and member of the Greater Minnesota Worker Center. “I’m hoping that by speaking with the folks at corporate, we can improve the situation.
“I want to know that I have a realistic opportunity to advance at SuperAmerica based on my hard work. What we need from SuperAmerica is better pay, better schedules and more respect.”
Tuesday’s actions by SuperAmerica workers came a week after a national day of action that brought new attention to the challenges of working families in the Twin Cities. On Nov. 10, SuperAmerica workers marched alongside striking food service workers, janitors and other hourly workers at a large rally outside of Minneapolis City Hall to urge city leaders to adopt policies that help working families, including raising the minimum wage, fair scheduling and an end to wage theft.
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives. Union representation provides a voice on the job and the opportunity to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.