By Ken Stone
Southern California grocery workers have “voted overwhelmingly” to approve a three-year labor deal reached Sunday with Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, the head of the international union announced Thursday.
This week’s vote averted a potential strike affecting 532 stores — the first since 2003-2004.
Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said in a statement: “By strongly voting for a new contract that improves wages and benefits, thousands of hard-working members of the UFCW sent a powerful message this week about the power that comes from workers and customers standing together.”
He said the contract, which affects seven locals in including Mission Valley-based Local 135, provides affordable healthcare, strong pensions and “critical benefits that ensure our UFCW members are able to build the better life they’ve earned.”
John Votava, a spokesman for Kroger-owned Ralphs, told Times of San Diego: “We are pleased to secure increased wages, continued premium health care coverage and pension stability. We thank our hardworking associates for continuing to serve our customers and communities. Our top priority is to do what is best to provide our customers with the freshest products and the friendliest associates.”
A total of 47,000 grocery workers represented by UFCW Local Unions 8GS, 324, 135, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442, had been in contract negotiations since March 5.
Perrone said the new contracts achieve:
- Health & Welfare: All workers will continue to have access to affordable & quality healthcare
- Pensions: All pensions will be maintained and fully funded
- Wages: All workers will have guaranteed wage increases that ensure their pay surpasses the state’s minimum wage.
The UFCW represents 16,000 Kroger workers in California; more than 56,000 Kroger workers in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and Memphis, Tennessee; and more than 72,000 Albertsons workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Utah.
The UFCW calls itself the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.
Updated at 2:43 p.m. Sept. 12, 2019
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