SAN FRANCISCO -- Talks between eight locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union here and five supermarket chains were scheduled to continue through the weekend, although employers said last week they would not extend contracts beyond last Friday.
Ron Lind, a union spokesman, told SN that union members could continue to work without a contract while negotiations continue. The Bay Area contracts, which had been extended since they expired Sept. 1, cover 30,000 employees at 350 locations of Albertsons, Kroger-owned Ralphs, Raley's, Safeway and Save Mart.
Lind said settlement of a contract 10 days ago with four chains by UFCW Local 588 in the Sacramento Valley "sets the pattern" for the agreement the Bay Area locals hope to negotiate.
That agreement, which was approved by 83.2% of Local 588's members, does not include a two-tier wage system, nor require employees to pay their own insurance premiums.
Although it does not include a two-tier wage system, the new contract does extend the progression for new hires working full time to achieve journeyman status to three and a half years, compared with one year under the previous contract, Loveall noted; and although it does not require employees to pay insurance premiums, it does impose insurance deductibles for the first time ever.
Commenting on the new agreement, Safeway said approval by the union "means our company will be able to better control rapidly rising health care costs and more effectively compete in a market that has seen a significant rise in non-union retailers."