Crunch Time In Supermarket Talks

A possible supermarket strike is one step closer to happening.

Six months of contract negotiations have produced little agreement between two area supermarket chain employers and their employees union — and on Monday, Sept. 9, employees are scheduled to vote on whether to accept or reject the owners’ final offer, according to a union website.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union restarted negotiations this week, according to an Aug. 27 article in The Los Angeles Times. Sessions began Sept. 4 and are set to end Sept. 8.

In South Pasadena, Vons, Pavilions and Ralphs will be affected if a strike is called. Vons and Pavilions are owned by Albertsons Companies, and Ralphs is owned by The Kroger Co.

At the end of June, 96 percent of employees from seven UFCW locals from Southern and Central California voted to authorize the union to call a walkout if negotiations fail.

That could be decided by Monday’s vote.

More than 46,000 unionized employees at some 500 stores in Southern and Central California are affected by the stalled contract talks.

Wages and health-care coverage are the main issues.

Some progress had been made during July negotiations, but matters seemed to stall after those.

The companies withdrew proposals to downgrade the classification of cashiers and to rescind payouts for sick leave, according to the Los Angeles Daily News on Aug. 2.

But since then, the same report said, no meaningful concessions had been made by the corporate owners.

Ralphs noted on its website on Aug. 15 that the company has made several offers, including more “top-rate [wage] increases than what we provided in our last agreement.”

The company has offered to maintain current health-care coverage without changes or contribution increases. Ralphs also proposed to “secure and stabilize” pensions.


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