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Southern California grocery workers to announce results of strike vote

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Posted at 3:36 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 18:36:35-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Leaders of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor plan to announce Monday whether they will endorse a potential strike by grocery workers at Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions in San Diego County and the rest of Southern California.

Raising the threat of the first Southland grocery strike in nearly 16 years, grocery workers last week overwhelmingly authorized their union to call for a work stoppage if a contract agreement cannot be reached.

``Southern California grocery workers voted in large numbers, and overwhelmingly rejected the unfair terms that have been proposed by Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons,'' said John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770.

The voting was conducted Monday and Tuesday, Grant said.

Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions issued a statement saying, ``The outcome of the strike authorization vote does not change anything related to this process. 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 and said, for now, ``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 next bargaining sessions involving the union and the companies are scheduled for July 10, 11, and 12, Grant said.

The contract between the union and the companies expired in March. That pact was approved by workers in 2016 and included annual raises for most workers, along with increased pay for entry-level cashiers and concessions on holiday pay and retirement age, union officials said at the time.

On Wednesday, union officials said the most recent contract offer made by the grocery companies included wage increases of less than 1 percent and nearly 25 percent cuts in cashier wages.

The labor dispute raises fears of a repeat of the 2003-04 Southland grocery strike that dragged on for 141 days. That work stoppage was estimated by some analysts to have cost the supermarket chains as much as $2 billion, with locked-out workers losing $300 million in wages.