LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southland grocery workers and union officials staged a rally Monday in another push for a new contract, stressing they do not want to go on strike, but they will if they don’t believe they are receiving fair labor offers from the owners of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons.

KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta Reports

Last week, an overwhelming majority of the 62,000 grocery workers voted to authorized a strike.

The grocery chains released a statement calling the strike-authorization vote a “common tactic in negotiations” that does not necessarily mean a strike will be called.

“Our employees want to keep working and our stores are ready to serve customers,” according to the stores.

Some of the stores have been accepting applications for fill-in workers in case the grocery workers do walk off the job.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks Reports

Negotiations between the union and grocery stores are scheduled to resume Aug. 29 with the help of a federal mediator.

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union employed at stores from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border have been working without a contract since March 6. More than 90 percent of those who voted Friday and Saturday agreed to authorize a strike, according to the union.

“Our members overwhelmingly authorized a strike because they want a fair contract, not a walkout,” UFCW Local 770 president Rick Icaza said Sunday.

Under the current industry contract offer, workers would pay about $36 per month for individual health insurance, or $92 per month for family coverage. But the union says the insurance fund would not be financially viable and wants the supermarkets to contribute more to the health care fund to prevent it from running out of money within 16 months.

No tentative agreement on wages has been reached.

A 141-day strike in 2003-04, which cost the stores an estimated $1.5 billion, led some customers to make long-term changes to their shopping habits by going to independent grocers and specialty outlets. Both sides agreed that they were both hurt by the last strike. “We don’t want another strike, but we need to protect our health benefits for ourselves and our families,” said Mario Frias, a Ralphs employee.

Mickey Kasparian, the president of UFCW Local 135, said a federal mediator would continue to work toward a resolution, but a strike could be called in five or six days if there are no positive developments.

“If we don’t get a deal, we’ll take this fight to the streets,” Kasparian said.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (14)
  1. Dean says:

    If you strike I will be one of the first to cross your picket lines and continue to shop in my neighborhood Ralphs. Sorry but am tired of labor unions causing inflated prices fir everthing.

    1. TT says:

      to be honest – i have already seen an increase – several of the products that i just happen to buy – pasta sauce, a certain soup brand, certain dairy products, they were higher yesterday when i went shopping than they usually are ….I still went shopping – but i illiminated those from my list, and I will buy them elsewhere…..

  2. Igor Doublebubblevich. says:

    will the workers be callimg their daddy JESSIE JACKSON? pathetic wimps fire them all.

  3. Tonyboy says:

    I am not Republican Union buster ….but will cross the line for my convinces … there are people who don’t have job right now , and you people want to strike…stop listening to those who will still have job while you are on strike ( mean your union) what wrong with you old contract, why did you agree on the last one if your not happy with it..you need a contract that’s renewable and you have to vote for union officer pay cut..WAKE UP MEMBERS THE UNION OFFICER GETS A RAISE AND YOU DON’T…

    1. TT says:

      think about where that money comes from that does keep them employed.

  4. LOL says:

    When I was growing up as a kid most people that worked at a grocery stores were might school & college students. I didn’t know it was a career.

    1. LOL says:

      Wow a few typos there ^^^ When I was growing up most people that worked at grocery stores were high school and college students. I didn’t know it was meant to be a career.

  5. Adrienne Shieber says:

    Labor Uions are so 1930’s. It was needed 80 years ago so Workers’ could receive benefits (ie. Workers’ Compensation). Uions have overstayed their welcome. If the workers don’t want to work, there are enough unemployed folk out there (ie. Unions call them scabs) who will gladly work!

  6. Frank N says:

    Wish the heck I could get healthcare for my family for $92.00 a month!!!! Wow! Where do I sign up? I currently pay almost $800.00 a month for just my wife and I, and that’s with a $3200.00 deductible!

    1. dan says:

      You’re a lucky guy Frank…

      My insurance company (Blue Cross) sent a guy into my doctor’s office with a portable computer, scanner and a standard release form I signed somewhere along the line…
      … long story short, they can’t deny me insurance in California, but they can demand about $3,000 a month for it.

      And *I’m* suppose to respect a picket line, for those who feel that a few dollar a week increase in their health insurance is unacceptable?

      Plus if they’ve been at work for 7 years they pay NOTHING?!

      I buy what groceries and produce I can elsewhere (Walmart, Target, 99 Ranch Market & Superior) and am saving a ton of money.

    2. LOL says:

      Ill walk across the picked line also, while laughing at these idiots.

  7. Tom says:

    If you strike I will be one of the first to cross your picket lines and replace you. My application is already on file as of last Friday at VONS.

  8. Tyler says:

    I will not cross the picket line. Stater Bros is better than all three stores combined. More friendly and cheaper. These people in this chat are just plain out dumb. Thats why I need to get the hell out of California. This place sucks. Thats what happens when we vote for Obama & Brown.

    1. dan says:

      “Thats why I need to get the hell out of California.”

      I hear there there’s a lot of work in Texas…

      …long as you don’t mind minimum wage and NO health insurance.

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