He makes $21 an hour, but his wages have not risen in five years. He hopes a new contract will help him and his co-workers keep pace with California's cost of living increases. Prices in California are rising nearly twice as fast as the rest of the country, according to the Labor Department.
"We're on the front lines. We work in the stores. We're pulling in the money," Escarcega said. "We're not being taken care of so that's why we're here."
Escarcega said that going on a strike would be a "last resort" for employees, but that "everybody wants to speak up and get what we deserve."
Grocery workers often have more leverage in negotiations with employers than other retail workers because groceries are perishable and companies can ill-afford work slowdowns, experts say.
Minimum wages in California were $10 in 2016 and have risen increments over the last few years. They are due to hit $15 an hour in July next year. The predictable result of those increases is to cause people who were previously making above minimum wage to demand more money for the same job. It comes down to basic human psychology. No one wants to think of themselves as a minimum wage worker so when the lowest rate rises everyone wants to sustain their buffer to enhance their own feeling of self-worth. That might be considered the push side of the argument.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top