Latest Calif. Grocery Strike Talks Unsuccessful

LOS ANGELES - A round of secret, informal negotiations between picketing Southern California grocery workers and their employers has ended without resolution, The Associated Press reports. The strike is now entering its fourth month.

Representatives from seven locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers met over the weekend with members of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons at an undisclosed location without a federal mediator in hopes of producing a settlement, said Rick Icaza and Mike Straeter of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Sandra Calderon, a spokeswoman for Vons, confirmed the talks and said that the two sides made "limited progress." Terry O'Neil, spokesman for Ralphs, said he had no comment Sunday.

About 70,000 grocery clerks from Kroger Co.'s Ralphs, Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Albertsons Inc. have been on strike since Oct. 11 over contract differences, particularly the cost and scope of health care benefits for current employees and future hires.

The three store chains have been negotiating as a bloc. They have been operating with replacement workers since the strike began.

Formal negotiations with a federal mediator are set to resume later this month.
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