Negotiations between the Southern California food industry and seven locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are scheduled to resume Thursday — four days after the expiration at midnight last Sunday of the industry’s three-year contracts.


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The contracts cover approximately 60,000 clerks and meat cutters employed by Albertsons, Kroger-owned Ralphs and Safeway-owned Vons. Eight additional meetings are scheduled between Thursday and April 10, though a union official told SN, “Anyone would have to be crazy to think we can come to some kind of agreement by then, especially meeting only one day or, at most, two days in a row. You can’t get any traction on that kind of schedule.”

The official — Greg Conger, president of UFCW Local 324, based in Buena Park, Calif. — said the union has been trying to meet with the employers since October, though they did not hold their first joint bargaining session until Feb. 7, with the second meeting on Feb. 14, he noted.

He said health, welfare and pension always be issues that are discussed, “but as far as wages or language changes, we have to wait to see what the employers propose.”

Management representatives could not be reached for comment.

Observers said it is not unusual for contract negotiations in Southern California to start late and drag on, noting that negotiations since a a 141-day strike-lockout in 2004 have tended to proceed smoothly, if slowly.

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