Vons groceries store. Photo credit: Alexander Nguyen

A tentative agreement was reached Monday in negotiations between the union representing Southern California grocery workers and the Ralphs and Albertsons brands, including Food4Less, Vons and Pavilions, avoiding a potential strike.

“Once our members have had an opportunity to review and vote, we will release more information on this historic and transformational deal. Nothing is final until our members decide,” according to a statement from the seven United Food and Commercial Workers International Union locals representing the workers.

“We are incredibly proud of our essential grocery members, whose hard work and determination to stand together and willingness to fight for what they deserve, has made this agreement possible.”

Robert Branton, vice president of operations at Ralphs, also welcomed the agreement, which came after several months of negotiations.

“We are pleased that this agreement allows us to put more money in our associates’ paychecks and secures healthcare and pension plans,” Branton said.

Union officials had said they were seeking a $5-per-hour wage hike, phased in over the next three years, along with bolstered safety standards and “adequate scheduling and hours.”

Ralphs said Friday its proposal included $141 million in total wage increases over three years and no increase in healthcare premiums.

A three-year labor contract between the unionized grocery workers and Southern California supermarkets expired March 7. Employees continue to work under the terms of the previous contract.

Members of the seven UFCW locals between Central California and the Mexican border had voted “overwhelmingly” last month to authorize a strike.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.