Workers in California’s supermarket industry have given their union permission to initiate a strike.
Contract talks with several large supermarket chains are slated to resume this week, and thousands of grocery workers in central and southern California have approved a referendum authorizing their union to call a strike.
It began last week, and the results were announced Sunday for 47,000 workers at hundreds of Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions.
Seven locals from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union could be involved in a probable walkout of grocery clerks, meat cutters, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians.
There was no imminent strike. Negotiations are set to resume on Wednesday, according to the union, and if they fail, they will decide what to do next.
There was no agreement between Ralphs and Albertsons before the three-year contracts expired on March 6 despite the fact that negotiations had been going on for some time.
According to the union’s statement, this “shockingly low” 60-cent salary rise falls far short of workers’ actual cost-of-living increases. In addition to other ideas, employees requested a $5-an-hour pay boost.
U.S. Food and Commercial Workers: “Both firms have failed to agree on expanding safety committees in stores, and they have yet to negotiate real health and welfare benefits.”
When there was a coronavirus pandemic, workers at grocery stores played a critical role in keeping the outbreak contained.
It was reported by the union that Ralphs employee Erlene Molina told corporate negotiators: “We watched how people were acting as if the world was ending, but we could not stay home. In order to show up every day, we recognized that we had a duty to our community.”
Albertsons Companies said in a statement Sunday that “the conclusion of the strike authorization vote does not change anything connected to this process.” A contract that is fair to all parties, including our employees, remains our goal, and we will continue to strive toward it.”
A request for comment from Ralphs was not immediately returned Sunday. At a time when we should be working together in good faith to come up with answers and compromise, Ralphs issued a statement on Monday saying that the decision generates “unnecessary concern for our workers and communities.”
“At Ralphs, we are committed to reaching an agreement with the UFCW.”
Other grocery chains, such as Gelson’s, Stater Bros. Markets, and Super A have not yet signed deals with the union.
After voting to approve a strike in 2019, employees at Ralph’s, Von’s, Pavilions, and Albertsons decided not to strike.
Nearly 70,000 Southern California grocery workers were on picket lines for more than four months during a strike and lockout in 2003-04.