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The Results of California Voters Choosing Corporate Domination

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The 2020 election was actually pretty disastrous for liberals outside of the presidential race. One of the most depressing results was in California, where voters decide to hand their future over to techbro corporate masters instead of giving workers rights. And now those workers who had fought hard to gain rights on the job are losing them.

When Dylan’s grocery delivery arrived a few days before New Years, it came with some bad news. The delivery driver who brought his groceries from Vons mentioned that drivers across the state are getting fired by Vons, Pavilions, and other California stores owned by Albertsons Companies at the end of January. Stores will instead turn to a third-party delivery service using independent contractors.

“I was disturbed and disappointed that Vons would eliminate these jobs. I felt like they were the only remaining company that treated delivery drivers ethically but no longer,” said Dylan.

A manager at a Southern California Vons delivery hub confirmed that as of February, Vons would be laying off drivers. A local Pavilions employee noted that they’re “no longer using drivers,” and shifting to DoorDash instead. Vons and Albertsons Corporate did not respond to requests for comment.

Many drivers under the Albertsons Companies umbrella are union employees, while Ralphs delivery is operated by Instacart and Target uses Shipt, a similar app. With this move from Vons and Albertsons, most shoppers in California will no longer have a unionized choice for grocery deliveries.

These layoffs are unsurprising after the passage of Proposition 22, which gutted worker protections while making it easier for companies to shift financial burdens onto newly-designated “independent contractors.” In a piece for KNOCK last year, Keith F. Eberl predicted this exact outcome in the opening paragraph:

“Contrary to the companies’ deceptive ad campaign and intimidating messages to their workers, Prop 22 does not preserve driver flexibility or save drivers from politicians. What Prop 22 does do is change current law so the companies can shift their costs to the driver and diminish or remove drivers’ rights, protections, and benefits. Prop 22 will also block drivers’ ability to organize so they can’t collectively bargain a contract. In addition, this proposition will block local governments from writing or enforcing protections for drivers.”

The only surprise is the speed at which Albertsons reversed course on its commitments to workers. This move comes after nearly a year of celebrating grocery store workers for feeding communities. Earlier this year, Albertsons Companies President & CEO Vivek Sankaran said the company was “taking care of our team.” Albertsons Companies “are working… to ensure that every member of our team who faces a crisis can have peace of mind that we will help them get through it.”

When I talk about a politics outside of electoral politics being as important as electoral politics, this is exactly what I mean. People have to be organized, not only for elections, but to have power and knowledge before the election. Focusing on candidates time and time again–necessary when it’s happening but also far from the be-all and end-all of voting–means that people simply don’t have the knowledge in order to withstand corporate propaganda efforts. This is what unions offered for so long–organizing outside of elections that built up resistance to this sort of thing. When that is lost, it means that voters are easily swayed toward disastrous choices. And this is having a real-life impact on low-wage workers in a very expensive state.

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