SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Local, independently owned grocery stores are keeping an eye on a potential grocery worker strike in Southern California.
On Monday, UFCW Local 135 will vote to authorize strikes at Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs. Union representatives say employees have been working without a contract since March. Union president, Todd Walters, says they've met 17 times with the companies asking for better wages, health benefits and pensions.
In South Park, the owner of a small grocery store says he hopes the bigger retailers don't enter a strike.
David Halabo owns Food Bowl Market with his wife. During the last strike in 2003, Halabo says his business saw an increase in customers for specific items like bread, milk and eggs.
Halabo says he's keeping an eye on the negotiations, but says he'll only stock up on extra items if the workers do go on strike. The small business owner says, although is business would benefit, he doesn't want to see a strike happen.
Ralphs spokesperson John Votava sent 10News a statement from the company, saying:
"We are negotiating in good faith with the union for a fair and balanced contract that is good for our associates, as well as our company. As you know, negotiations are about finding compromise, and this can take time. Throughout the negotiations, it's business as usual in our stores and Ralphs is extremely proud of our associates who remain focused on serving our customers, communities and each other."
Vons/Albertson's spokesperson Melissa Hill sent this statement as well, saying:
"We are committed to working collaboratively with the unions to ensure that we reach an agreement that is fair to our employees, good for our customers and allows Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions to remain competitive in the Southern California market. We feel the strike authorization vote is premature and will cause our employees and customers undue concern; nevertheless, we will be back at the bargaining table on July 10 and hope to reach an agreement soon."
The vote doesn't mean employees will go on strike immediately, but it does give the union the ability to call for one at any time.
Grocery workers will have three opportunities to vote on Monday, at 9 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 6 p.m.