California grocery workers vote to approve strike

Los Angeles (AP) — Thousands of Central and Southern California grocery workers will approve unions to strike on some major supermarket chains as contract negotiations are scheduled to resume this week. I voted.

Since last week, hundreds of workers from Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and the Pavilion have voted, and the results were announced on Sunday.

Possible strikes include grocery clerk, meat cutter, pharmacist, and pharmacy technician represented by the seven locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union.

The strike was not set immediately. The union said it would decide what to do next if negotiations resumed on Wednesday and the negotiations broke down again.

Negotiations between Kroger-owned Ralphs and Albertsons, owner of Albertsons, Vons and Pavilion stores, ended without agreement before the latest three-year contract expired on March 6.

The union said the next day that the company’s wage proposals were “surprisingly low”, reaching a 60-cent increase that far fell short of workers’ living needs. Employees were asking for a $ 5 hourly salary increase, among other proposals.

“The two companies have refused to agree to expand the store’s safety committee and have not yet negotiated meaningful health and welfare benefits,” a statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union said. ..

The union said on the final day of the negotiations that it emphasized the important role that grocery workers played during the coronavirus pandemic.

The union was told by Erlene Molina, an employee of Ralphs and a member of the negotiating committee, to the company’s negotiators: We knew that our community had obligations, so we appeared every day. “

The grocery chain did not immediately comment on the strike approval on Sunday.

According to a Ralphs statement last Monday, the Los Angeles Times said the vote “brings unnecessary concerns to employees and the community when they need to negotiate in good faith to find solutions and compromises. “. Ralphs continues to focus on resolving transactions with the UFCW. “

Albertsons Companies said in a statement last week that the goal of the negotiations was “to provide employees with a competitive comprehensive compensation package for wages, health, benefits and pension benefits.”

“We are committed to reaching a fair and customer-friendly agreement for our employees and working together to help Albertsons, Vons and the Pavilion remain competitive in the Southern California market.” The statement states.

The union has not yet reached an agreement with other supermarket chains such as Gelson’s, Stater Bros. Markets and SuperA.

In 2019, Ralphs, Vons, Pavilion and Albertsons employees voted to approve the strike, but eventually the deal was signed without a strike.

A 2003-04 strike and lockout put nearly 70,000 workers in a grocery store in Southern California on the picketing line for more than four months.