LOS ANGELES — The United Food and Commercial Workers Union here said Tuesday it has informed its members and the employers that it plans to put to a vote whatever offer is on the table on Aug. 17.
A UFCW spokesman told SN the union has scheduled voting for all seven Southern California locals on Friday, Aug. 19, with some outlying members scheduled to vote on Aug. 20.
The union has previously authorized negotiators to call a strike, and the spokesman declined to indicate what might happen if workers at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons reject the contract offer. In some previous years the two sides have returned to the bargaining table after a contract was rejected, despite a strike authorization vote, and come to a peaceful accord, he said.
"It's still a tad too early to tell what will happen this time," he told SN. "We still have plenty of work ahead of us between now and Aug. 17."
The last agreements, covering 62,00 clerks and meatcutters, expired March 6. Four years ago the UFCW voted on and ratified a contract at this point in the negotiations, "though at that time we had already completed a contract with Stater Bros. that set a pattern for the rest of the industry," the union source said.
This year the UFCW is still negotiating separately with Stater Bros. When contracts expired in 2003, talks continued into 2004 and, after the members rejected a contract and negotiators returned to the bargaining table, the two sides could still not reach a final agreement, resulting in a 141-day strike-lockout — the longest in the industry's history.