By Ken Stone
San Diego and Imperial County grocery workers for Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons will vote Monday and Tuesday on whether to ratify a new labor contract, their union announced Sunday.
A tentative Southern California deal was reached this weekend between seven United Food and Commercial Workers locals and two major companies — Kroger, which owns Ralphs, and Albertsons, which also owns Vons.
UFCW Local 135 officials posted news Sunday, saying: “We know the road to get here has been a long one for you and your co-workers. Your dedication to standing up for good jobs – engaging tens of thousands of customers with over 200 community rallies and store actions – has been the driving force behind getting a deal that you can be proud to have stood up for.”
Details of the new 3-year agreement weren’t immediately released. The deal would affect 47,000 workers at 532 stores.
But the Local 135 posting said employees would get a copy of the tentative agreement as well as a chance to ask questions and “go over the entire package.”
The deal averts the first work stoppage since 2004 and comes after a June vote to authorize leaders to call a strike. Picketing and leafletting took place at selected Ralphs in recent weeks.
In a 65-word statement, Ralphs said the tentative deal covers its 18,000 “associates” at 190 stores in Southern California.
“The parties were assisted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services,” Ralphs said, also giving no contract details. “Thank you for your patience during this process and your commitment to serving our customers and community.”
Local 135 President Todd Walters, expressing huge relief, said the deal was reached about 3:30 a.m. Sunday in Costa Mesa after tense moments in the past week, including an episode in which a strike against Ralphs was pondered when Kroger sent some “aggressive” messaging to its workers.
The Local 135 statement continued: “The decision to protest, to take a stand for a better life, is a tough one. But when we stand together, when we engage our co-workers, customers, friends, families and neighbors, we strengthen working families and protect customer service in our communities.
“When we stand together, we win.”
Ratification votes will take place at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday at Scottish Rite Event Center adjacent to Local 135 offices in Mission Valley and the same times Tuesday at California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
Besides San Diego and Imperial counties’ Local 135, other UFCW locals involved in regional talks were Local 8, based in Bakersfield; Local 324 of Buena Park, Local 770, based in Los Angeles; Local 1167 of Bloomington; Local 1428 of Claremont; and Local 1442 of Inglewood.
Updated at 1:47 p.m. Sept. 8, 2019
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