GROCERY WORKERS VOTE “OVERWHELMINGLY” TO STRIKE

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East County News Service

June 23, 2016 (San Diego) – Members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union voted “overwhelmingly” for a strike Monday night, UFCW president Mickey Kasperian announced Tuesday.  No date for the strike has been set as yet by the union, which represents about 47,000 grocery workers across Southern California. 

If a settlement is not reached, the strike could affect Ralphs,Albertson’s, Vons, Safeway and Pavilion stores.

The grocery chains have sought to cut holiday pay, reduce corporate contributions to pension funds, and make new employees work longer before getting raises.

Currently the starting wage is $10.10 an hour, though that will rise as Calfiornia’s minimum wage goes up to $15 an hour by 2020.  Grocery workers in the past typically made substantially more than minimum wage.

Kasperian has previously called the companies’ latest offer “insulting” to workers and their families. “We don’t want to strike.  We want a successful contract,” he has stated.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Carlos Illingworth, spokesman for Albertson and Vons, has said the companies remain committed to negotiating a contract ”fair to all parties.” 

KendraDoyel from Ralphs has called the strike authorization “premature” and indicated it “only serves to cause concern for associates and customers.”

Grocery chains risk losing market share if they face a protracted strike and many customers shop elsewhere to avoid crossing picket lines. San Diego has a growing number of alternatives such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, Smart & Final, Baron’s Market,  Sprouts, Whole Foods, Food 4 Less, Grocery Outlet,Stater Brothers, and smaller neighborhood family markets as well as Farmer’s Markets and retailers such as Target that now offer some grocery items.