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Bay-area Albertsons Targeted for Day of Action

SAN FRANCISCO -- With grocery negotiations at a "critical stage" on the issue of benefits cuts and other contract conditions, the UFCW Bay Area Coalition Grocery has now widened its campaign at local Safeway stores to include Albertsons locations.

The coalition, which has already expanded its pledge card tabling to Albertsons stores across Northern California, held rallies yesterday at Albertsons throughout the Bay Area between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. "to send a strong message to the employers." The object of pledge card tabling is to get shoppers to sign cards promising to boycott stores if the union calls for a strike.

"The companies have taken an unreasonable position at the bargaining table," said UFCW spokesman Ron Lind in a statement. "Their current proposals would decimate our health care, and are unacceptable to our membership. From the beginning we have been open to compromise, but by taking such a hard line stance, the employers are increasing the likelihood of a labor dispute."

Attended by labor, community, and religious leaders, as well as grocery workers and their supporters, the rallies were scheduled to take place in Santa Cruz, Oakland, Napa, Daly City, and San Jose, among other store locations.

The Bay Area Coalition, which represents 30,000 grocery employees, gave a deadline of Wednesday, Jan. 24 to Albertsons, Safeway, and Ralphs to work toward a contract settlement or face a labor dispute. The old contract expired Saturday, Jan. 15, after the grocers declined to extend it.

The UFCW said yesterday that should the Jan. 24 deadline pass, the coalition is prepared further escalate the store campaign. A larger day of action is planned for Tuesday, Jan. 25, with more stores being added to the list from today. UFCW retirees are also planning their own day of action on Monday, Jan. 24, according to the coalition.
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