LOS ANGELES — In an effort to get labor negotiations moving, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said members in its seven Southern California locals are scheduled to take a strike authorization vote later this week.
The voting will involve employees of Supervalu-owned Albertsons, Kroger-owned Ralphs and Safeway-owned Vons, whose members constitute most of the 62,000 workers in the seven locals. Their contracts expired March 6 and have been extended on a day-to-day basis since March 31, subject to a 72-hour cancellation notice by either side.
Albertsons issued a statement last week that said talk of a strike “or even the threat of one is premature and unnecessary while both sides are actively negotiating.
“We believe that progress is being made, and that is evident from the tentative agreements we already have on a number of issues. That's a good sign, and we think everyone's interests are best served by staying at the negotiating table and focusing on achieving a fair and reasonable contract.”
In a posting on the Vons negotiations website, the company said health and welfare “continues to be the area where the parties clearly have the most work to do. However, significant changes need to be made to provide for the long-term stability of the [health and welfare] plan.”
It also said discussions about contract language issues have been productive “and we are encouraged by the honest give-and-take we experienced and by the progress we made.”
According to Greg Conger, president of UFCW Local 324, there have not been any discussions yet concerning wages, “but that's usually the last thing we discuss.”
He told SN negotiations were scheduled to end last Thursday and set to resume again next Monday.
He acknowledged that this week had previously been set aside by the union for a possible strike authorization vote. Asked if the employers knew of that possibility, Conger told SN, “They've been around this rodeo before.”
The Vons website said the union had informed the employers it would not be able to meet the week of April 18.