If union votes go as predicted, South Pasadena and Southern California customers of two of the area’s largest grocery chains will avoid facing striking employees the next time they shop.

Chain-store owners Albertsons and The Kroger Co. and seven locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union negotiated a three-year contract agreement on Sept. 8. The parties had been meeting regularly since early March, when the contract expired.

Stores affected by a strike in South Pasadena would have been Vons and Pavilions, which are owned Albertsons Companies of Boise, Idaho, and Ralphs, owned by The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati.

“They heard us,” said John Grant, president of UFCW Local 770. South Pasadena’s grocery employees are represented by this local.

He was referring to the response by chain-store owners, according to a statement on the union’s website Sept. 8.

“And we were successful in getting a deal that will make our lives better,” he added. He said it took more than 40 bargaining sessions to reach the deal.

Details of the contract were scheduled to be released Sept. 12, after the final vote count. Points of contention over the six-month negotiation period were union demands for higher hourly wages, increased benefits and stronger pension programs, according to published reports.

Ralphs spokesperson John Votava said by email on Sept. 10, “We are pleased to have secured increased wages, continued premium health-care coverage and pension stability. Our associates are the heart of our company, and this agreement is a reflection of their contributions.”

Albertsons spokesperson Melissa Hill said by email the same date, “We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the unions.” She said Albertsons will update its statement after knowing the vote’s outcome.

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Sally Kilby, a South Pasadena resident, was City Clerk 2000-2013. Prior to that, she worked in health care as a nurse, medical librarian, advertising copywriter, writer and journal editor. She is involved in various community organizations. Her two grown children attended South Pasadena schools and work at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.

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