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LOS ANGELES - Members of the groups Audioslave and System of a Down are performing at a benefit concert tonight at the Roxy Theater here to benefit the families of striking Southern California supermarket workers.
"The proceeds will go to the workers to help them buy presents for their kids at the holidays," said Tom Morello of Audioslave, "and to help them win the strike."
Workers from Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons have been on strike since Oct. 11. "The companies are trying to roll back grocery workers' health care coverage despite the fact that grocery store profits have gone up 91 percent since 1998, and the operating profits for employers have increased 10 times faster than health care costs," said Morello, who also belongs to the nonprofit political organization Axis of Justice. "This is the largest strike in California in 50 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," noted 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 said Axis of Justice plans to stage more benefits for the supermarket workers in the future. "This came together very quickly," he said. "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."