By Miriam Raftery
June 26, 2019 (San Diego) – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union have voted to authorize a potential strike against Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons grocery stores across Southern California, including San Diego County.
On Facebook, UFCW Local 135 posted, “Together, we voted to REJECT the pitiful contract offer that corporate grocery executives left on the table. 96% of membership across Southern California UFCW Locals said NO to corporate greed and YES to fighting for what we’re owed.”
The union announced the action Wednesday, but it’s not yet certain whether a walkout will occur. The union plans meetings with picket captains aimed at “economic protest” actions prior to the next bargaining sessions schedule for July 10, 11 and 12, Patch.com reports.
Employees have been working without a contract since their last contract expired in March, which included annual pay raises for workers and other benefits. Union representatives indicate the grocery corporations have offered wage hikes of less than 1 percent for some workers, while seeking to cut cashiers’ wages by 25 percent.
Albertsons, which also owns Vons, issued a statement indicating the strike vote doesn’t change the process, adding, “We remain committed to negotiating a contract that is fair to all parties, including our employees, and will continue to work to achieve that."
Ralphs issued a similar statement, which reads, “It is business as usual in Ralphs stores."
The strike authorization vote means union negotiators have the power to call for a strike, if deemed necessary, but it does not automatically mean a walkout will occur.
The last grocery strike in 2003-2004 lasted 141 days and cost supermarkets an estimated $2 billion; workers lost an estimated $300 in income.
A strike now could potentially have even broader boycotting by the public, since consumers now have many more options to shop for groceries at outlets such as CostCo, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Target, farmer’s markets and Food 4 Less, to name just a few of the alternativesthat have grown locally.