Unions ask San Diegans to boycott Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 14:27:29-04

SAN DIEGO - A strike by local grocery workers could be on the horizon, but for now, those workers don't want you stepping foot in their San Diego-area stores.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 are boycotting area stores. Picketing began outside at least five stores this week.

"Everybody's a little scared, everybody is tentative," 39-year Vons veteran Darrell Ledford said.

A UFCW Local 135 spokeswoman said 14,000 union members could go on strike in roughly two weeks. They haven't had a contract with Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs since March.

"We're talking 160 days without a contract," Ledford said. "We are asking for you to boycott so that they understand the impact that you're lack of patroness can do if we don't get a fair and equitable contract."

The union set an August 8 deadline to get a contract that does not increase their healthcare costs and gives them a raise every year.

Union spokeswoman Lori Kern said the grocery chains are only offering a 10-cent raise next year and want to increase healthcare costs.

"Ultimately, we're losing money. It's time for us to get some money back," Ledford said.

Ledford wants their loyal customers to shop at other union chains like Gelsons, Kiels, Smart and Final, and Food 4 Less.

10News reached out to Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs. Albertsons spokesman Carlos Illingworth said the boycott "is an unfortunate distraction that won't impact the outcome of the negotiations. Labor contracts are negotiated at the bargaining table. We're doing the hard work at the bargaining table and that's where everyone's focus should be."

Regarding the UFCW Local 135's contract demands, Illingworth said: "We're dealing with complex issues, such as wages, pensions and healthcare. We're bargaining in good faith and giving negotiations the time and thought that they deserve. We are working hard to find a settlement that is fair to our employees, good for our customers and allows our company to remain competitive."