Fresh & Easy Comes to Costa Mesa ... and So Do the Pickets

Fresh & Easy Comes to Costa Mesa ... and So Do the Pickets

"Sir, I'm asking that you don't shop here today." This seemed to be an unusual request from a Fresh & Easy employee near the entrance of the Tesco-owned market chain's latest store, which only opened an hour earlier along Harbor Boulevard just south of the 405 freeway in Costa Mesa. As he went on to say something about workers exploited in Nevada, I put up a hand, said "Sorry," and breezed into the packed store.

I normally don't advocate crossing picket lines but, fer chrissakes, they were selling sixers of Smithwick's for $5.99 on opening day!

After I managed to get out of the tight parking lot without getting fender-bendered by some old cuss, I caught a glimpse of the fellow and his partner, looking all dejected with their signs and stack of fliers. I'd traded solidarity with my brothers for two boxes of pecan and almond cereal for five bucks.

Thanks for the crappy economy, Obama!

At least I fired up the Interwebs when I got home to find out why all the holler. Fresh & Easy employees in Nevada, Arizona and California are airing grievances about working conditions as the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union tries to organize them. They call their campaign "Fix Fresh & Easy," which sounds to me like a vanilla rap trio from the '90s.

"All we are asking for is a fair chance for the workers at Fresh & Easy to create a better place to work and to make this company successful," claim the employees, who tie their well-being with that of Tesco, which is part of a U.K. giant that has struggled in America despite opening 175 stores the past coupla three years.

By the way, the fellows at the door wore black, as opposed to the Fresh & Easy workers on the clock in their bright green tees. If I spot them again when I go back Saturday, perhaps I'll buy them flavored waters to account for my sins.

What's that? Oh, hell ya I'm going back, with or without the job action. I forgot to pick up cat food.

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