LOS ANGELES -- Seven locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union here shifted their public relations effort this week to Ralphs Grocery Co. after collecting an estimated 14,000 petition signatures from Albertsons customers over the last 10 weekends, a union spokesman told SN yesterday. Union members planned to spend three weekdays at Ralphs stores this week collecting additional signatures and then to return to Ralphs locations on Saturday, Michael Shimpock, the spokesman, said. The petitions call on Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons to give union members "a fair share of [their] record profits." To extend its PR effort, a union website said the UFCW plans to launch a radio campaign next week. Separately, Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons said yesterday they had all agreed to lock out employees if the union calls a strike against any of the three chains. Their agreement also includes a plan to provide financial assistance for any of the banners affected by a strike.
-- Elliot Zwiebach