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Local Business and Labor Issues

Union to Make Announcement on Possible Southern California Grocery Strike

RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Union leaders plan to announce today (Monday) whether
grocery workers in the Inland Empire and the rest of Southern California will go
on strike against Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions.
   Raising the threat of the first Southland grocery strike in nearly 16
years, the workers on Wednesday overwhelmingly authorized their union's plan to
call for a work stoppage unless a contract agreement can be reached.
   ``Southern California grocery workers voted in large numbers, and
overwhelmingly rejected the unfair terms that have been proposed by Ralphs,
Albertsons and Vons,'' said John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial
Workers Local 770.
   The voting was conducted last Monday and Tuesday, Grant said. Exact tallies
of the vote were not immediately released, but UFCW Local 770 leaders said
they would announce a decision at 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 1.
   Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions issued a statement saying, ``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,
including our employees, and will continue to work to achieve that.''
   Ralphs issued a similar statement and said, for now, ``it is business
as usual in Ralphs stores.''
   The strike authorization vote means union negotiators have the power
to call for a strike, if deemed necessary, but it does not automatically mean a
walkout will occur.
   Meetings are pending this week involving the Los Angeles County
Federation of Labor to discuss authorizations for the member unions to honor
possible picket lines, Grant said.
   The next bargaining sessions involving the union and the companies are
scheduled for July 10, 11, and 12, Grant said.
   The contract between the union and the companies expired in March.
That pact was approved by workers in 2016 and included annual raises for most
workers, along with increased pay for entry-level cashiers and concessions on
holiday pay and retirement age, union officials said at the time.
   On Wednesday, union officials said the most recent contract offer made
by the grocery companies included wage increases of less than 1 percent and
nearly 25 percent cuts in cashier wages.
   The labor dispute raises fears of a repeat of the 2003-04 Southland
grocery strike that dragged on for 141 days. That work stoppage was estimated
by some analysts to have cost the supermarket chains as much as $2 billion,
with locked-out workers losing $300 million in wages.

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