Grocery Stores Reach A Deal With Unions: Strike Averted
UPDATED: The Southern California grocery store workers who have been threating to strike have reached a tentative deal with the group of chains that includes Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs, according to union representatives. The agreement needs union member approval to go into effect.
The impending strike over worker benefits, including health care, would have resulted in the temporary closure of many area stores.
“We have reached a tentative agreement at the bargaining table, and will present it to our members for approval later this week,” said Rick Icaza, president of the grocery workers union Local 770 in a statement.
L.A. City Council president Eric Garcetti, who is running for mayor, tweeted his support. "UFCW announces settlement with employers--strike of grocery workers averted. Yea!!" he wrote.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed his support for the deal in a press release. "I applaud the efforts of the United Food and Commercial Workers and the grocery companies for reaching a tentative contract agreement and avoiding an imminent strike and lockout," he said.
In a statement (quoted in LAist), the major stores expressed their concerns over the continuing negotiations, in which they express concern about agreements yet to be reached.
From our earlier report today:
The deadline for negotiation was at 7:10pm Sunday Night, but union offiicals have told their members to return to work today.
The United Food and Comericals Workers Union, which represents 62,000 grocery clerks in Southern California, cancelled their contract extention and gave 72 hours notice. Back and forth negotiation have been happening since then.
Health benefits are at the heart of the disagreements. With rising medical costs, grocery workers want to be able to pay less for health coverage, and still receive the same or more benefits. The grocery stores account the coverage as necessary to offset the rising medical costs. According to the Los Angeles Times, the current offer includes workers payign $9 weekly for indvidiual coverage, and $23 for family coverage.
Sunday night a candlelight vigil with grocery workers and supporters was held at the Vons in Beverly Hills.
No one wants a repeat of the strike in 2003 that lasted over 100 days.
It's tough times for everyone invovled: "We've seen cuts in pay and benefits, and I understand why the workers want a contract. But at the same token, these are tough times for consumers as well," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
It's a good sign no strike has happened yet, with both sides still talking maybe the whole thing can be avoided.