Morello Backs Grocery Strike

Members of System, Slipknot to play Los Angeles benefit

December 17, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Audioslave's Tom Morello and System of a Down's Serj Tankian will perform at a Thursday night benefit for striking Southern California grocery store workers at Los Angeles' Roxy Theater. Morello and Tankian's non-profit political organization Axis of Justice is sponsoring the event.

"The proceeds will go to the workers to help them buy presents for their kids at the holidays," Morello says, "and to help them win the strike."

Workers from supermarket chains Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons in California walked off their jobs on October 11th when negotiations over pay, healthcare and pension benefits broke down. The stores are open, but the employees are walking picket lines outside.

"The companies are trying to roll back grocery workers' healthcare coverage despite the fact that grocery store profits have gone up ninety-one percent since 1998, and the operating profits for employers has increased ten times faster than healthcare costs," Morello says. "This is the largest strike in California in fifty years. There are currently 70,000 grocery workers out on strike, taking a stand against corporate greed."

Also on the bill are Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk, Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor, Phantom Planet, Boots Riley of the Coup, Lester Chambers and host Janeane Garafalo. "It's a lot of acoustic sets," says Morello, who will be billed as the Night Watchman. "My set is solo acoustic and then Brad Wilk and I will be backing up Serj Tankian. He'll be doing some really interesting spoken word stuff."

Morello says Axis of Justice plans to stage more benefits for the supermarket workers in the future. "This came together very quickly," he says. "We wanted to do something before the holidays to help publicize the strike, but to also let people know what they can do. The first thing is not to cross the picket line and encourage people not to work in the stores as 'replacement' workers."

More information about the cause is available at axisofjustice.org.

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