SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Voting to approve a new contract began Monday for grocery store workers in Southern California, after a tentative agreement was reached last week between the union and several major grocery stores.
“We care about our people so much,” said President of UFCW Local 135 Todd Walters. “We want the world for them but it's hard when you have to make difficult decisions.”
Walters said there was a compromise on both sides during negotiations, but he believes they have a contract that most can agree with.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union reached a new three-year tentative agreement with grocery companies Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons.
“We’re proud of this agreement,” said Walters. “We feel that this is an agreement that they’re well deserved of. This should change lives.”
“It does give us a wage increase that's going to help keep up with minimum wage,” said grocery store employee Kenneth Robertson.
Robertson said he feels good about the agreement. In the past, he has voted against contracts he said were just not up to par. He has been working in the retail industry for 23 years.
Specific details in the contract haven’t been released, but ABC 10News learned the agreement does improve benefits, wages, and increased minimum hours.
Walters said it’s deserving for the essential workers who helped serve the community during the pandemic.
“Our members went through hell in the last two years with COVID,” said Walters. “They served the community, continued to come to work when other people were working from home, but most importantly those workers care about the community.”
Members will be casting their votes at different locations Monday through Wednesday:
April 11: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (Machinists Hall) - 590 Park Way, Chula Vista
April 12: California Center for the Arts - 340 N. Escondido Blvd, Escondido
April 13: UFCW Local 135 - 2001 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego
Voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.