Teamsters Vote to Sanction Potential Calif. Grocery Workers’ Strike

Teamsters Vote to Sanction Potential Calif. Grocery Workers’ Strike
Ralphs is among the supermarket banners that will be affected by a potential strike by California grocery workers

Teamsters Joint Council 42, in Los Angeles, has voted unanimously to sanction a possible strike that could affect more than 60,000 grocery workers in Central and Southern California who are represented by seven United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) local unions.

The move means that, in the event of a strike, the deliveries normally received by the affected stores will stop, meaning that even if the grocers hire temporary workers, the stores’ shelves will soon be bare.

The grocery associates, employed by Albertsons and its Vons and Pavilions banners, as well as Kroger’s Ralphs chain, have been working without a contract since March. At issue are wages and health care and retirement benefits. The employees voted last month to authorize their union leadership to strike if an agreement can’t be reached. The next round of talks is scheduled for July 10 to 12.

Noting that it anticipated “meaningful and thoughtful discussions,” Compton, Calif.-based Ralphs reiterated on its website that it remained “committed to continuing to invest in our associates – providing secure, stable jobs with competitive pay and benefits. We also need to keep our company strong. With a balanced approach this agreement can be a win for everyone – our associates, our communities and our company.”

The grocer added that further bargaining dates were scheduled for the end of July and early August.

“We will always stand with our UFCW brothers and sisters in their fight for fair wages, affordable health care and retirement security,” said Ron Herrera, Teamsters International VP for the western region, recording secretary of Teamsters Joint Council 42, and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 396, in Covina, Calif. “The labor movement in California has a long history of uniting against injustice, and our members are prepared to honor any picket lines that UFCW may raise if they go on strike.”

Teamsters Joint Council 42 represents more than 158,800 members at 23 Teamster union locals in Southern California, southern Nevada, Guam, Saipan and Hawaii. Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 grocery store workers in the Portland, Ore., area have voted almost unanimously to authorize a strike against Albertsons and its Safeway banner, as well as Kroger's Fred Meyer and QFC chains. Although the votes include Portland-area grocery store workers only, voting will continue across Oregon and Southwest Washington state this month and the next, according to the union, and a final decision regarding a strike won't be made until all votes from across the jurisdiction are counted. The workers are seeking a wage increase amid contract negotiations that have dragged on for nearly a year.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 35 states and the District of Columbia under 20 well-known banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as meal-kit company Plated. The company is No. 3 on Progressive Grocer's 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.

Cincinnati-based Kroger operates nearly 2,800 retail food stores under various banner names, including Ralphs, employing nearly half a million associates. It is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s Super 50 list

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