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Clock Ticks Toward Possible Southland Grocery Strike

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A union representing workers at three major grocery chains in Southern California is distributing picket signs as the clock ticks toward the end of a 3-day notice period required before calling a strike.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz Talks To Union Official

Union negotiators intend to keep talking if a resolution appears to be in sight when the period ends at 7:10 p.m. Sunday. They also stress that members could continue working beyond that time.

But if little progress is made toward settling disagreements over health benefits, negotiators say they will tell members to walk off the job.

Some 62,000 grocery workers have been working at Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons stores without a contract since March.

“I know it’s over health benefits and I just hope the come to a resolution by then,” Jesse Nerio, a customer, told CBS2.

Nerio said he’s already looked at other options for getting food.

“I’ll look for somewhere else because I want to support the workers with their health care needs,” Felipe Caceres, another shopper, said.

Back in 2003 and 2004, workers took to the picket lines. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar hopes this time will be different.

On Saturday, Huizar delivered a letter to a manager at a Vons store in Eagle Rock to pass on to the CEO of the company urging the two sides to come to an agreement.

“We’re trying to avert a strike,” Huizar told the manager. “You know, it could happen Sunday and everyone suffered – the consumers, the local economy, the workers.”

Representatives for the supermarkets say they are disappointed that the unions voted to possibly strike but remain committed to reaching an agreement.

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» Stores May Close Their Doors If Grocery Workers Strike
» Grocery Workers Could Strike As Early As Sunday Night

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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