Workers at Vons, Albertsons, Pavilions and Ralphs stores on the Central Coast and throughout Southern California have authorized a strike in case agreement isn’t reached on a new contract.
The old contract expired March 6, and talks are set to resume Wednesday.
Negotiations began Jan. 28. The United Food and Commercial Workers union has been seeking a $5 a hour raise during the three-year contract, as well as more hours for workers and increased staffing.
The answer isn’t a strike, according to Albertsons, which owns Vons and Pavilions.
“No one wins in a strike — not our associates, not our company, not our communities and not the union,” Albertsons said in a statement. “The outcome of the strike authorization vote does not change anything related to this process. We remain committed to negotiating a contract that is fair to all parties.”
The Los Angeles Times reported Ralphs saying the strike authorization vote creates “unnecessary concern for our associates and communities at a time when we should be coming together in good faith bargaining to find solutions and compromise. At Ralphs, we remain focused on settling a deal with the UFCW.”
Previously, a strike was authorized in 2019, but an agreement was reached without a walkout.
Last week workers “overwhelmingly” voted “yes” to authorize an unfair labor practice strike, should one become necessary, according to a news release from the UFCW, which represents more than 47,000 employees.
“The companies are not playing fair by violating our rights and federal labor laws. After all the hard work we’ve done through the COVID pandemic serving customers so they can feed their families, we deserve to be able to feed ours,” said Rachel Fournier, a Bargaining Committee member and a cashier at Ralphs in Los Angeles. “While Kroger made more than $4 billion in profits last year, many employees are struggling to make ends meet. This has to change. It is time for the grocery corporations to do better and come back to the bargaining table with an adequate contract proposal that respects our work.”