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Northern, Central Calif. UFCW Members Vote to Merge

ROSEVILLE, Calif. -- Northern and Central California members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 45D and UFCW 8-Golden State voted to combine forces, based on results of balloting that was conducted by mail in January and early February.

UFCW 8-Golden State -- already the product of 11 mergers over the past few years -- is the largest UFCW affiliate in the Western United States. Other recent mergers have created large UFCW affiliates in the San Francisco Bay Area, New Jersey, Seattle, and Chicago.

"We applied a non-traditional, 'win-win' approach to negotiations," said Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State. "It helped that all sides recognized the need to work together to face the challenges of our industry."

According to UFCW-8, its size and approach to bargaining has had a powerful and beneficial effect on the wages, benefits, and working conditions of its members.

With the addition of 45D's membership, which primarily serves the distillery industry, UFCW 8 represents more than 30,000 working people in 54 of California's 58 counties. Its members work in supermarkets, drug stores, food-processing plants, factories, distilleries, health care facilities, and offices.

Ken Jacobs, deputy chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, said this is an example of a nationwide trend toward mergers throughout the American labor movement.

"Small, geographically-based unions made sense when employers were local operations," said Jacobs. "Today, when dealing with national and international companies with deep pockets, it's a different ballgame. Unions like the UFCW will have to find ways to restructure themselves in order to have leverage at the bargaining table. Merging local unions is a smart way to do that."

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