Calif. Supermarket Strike Enters Second Week

LOS ANGELES - The strike by 70,000 Southern California grocery clerks entered its second week on Sunday, with no new negotiations in sight, according to local reports.

Talks broke off Oct. 11 and no negotiating sessions were scheduled, said Terry O'Neil, a spokesman for the Ralphs supermarket chain.

"We are ready to go back to the table as soon as the union comes to us and tells us that they want to enter into a meaningful discussion around the issues," O'Neil said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ellen Anreder, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said the union is waiting on supermarkets to make a new contract offer.

"The workers rejected the offer that was on the table," Anreder said. "Unless there's a new offer, there's really no way to talk."

Grocery clerks from three chains--Kroger Co.'s Ralphs, Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Albertsons Inc.--went on strike or were locked out of stores in a contract dispute involving the cost of health care coverage and other issues.

Union members got a boost Saturday when Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich spoke to picketing workers outside a Ralphs grocery store in Venice.

"Every worker who's ever had their wage knocked down must support your efforts, and every worker who's ever been asked to sacrifice their health care benefits must support your efforts," said Kucinich, an Ohio congressman.

Also on Saturday, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, issued a statement urging labor and business leaders to return to contract talks and settle their differences.

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson was scheduled to appear at two public rallies in Los Angeles Sunday in support of the striking workers.
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