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Labor Union in Talks With Grocery Chain Management

A Sunday night strike by 62,000 grocery employees across the Southland has been averted—so far.

A labor union representing 62,000 workers in three grocery chains across Southern California was at the bargaining table Monday morning, locked in negotiations with the management of Vons/Pavillions, Ralphs and Albertsons in an attempt to secure better health benefits and wages for the employees.

The ongoing talks averted an employees’ strike that could have begun Sunday night—and the grocery workers  “will remain at the bargaining table as long as we feel progress is being made towards a fair, equitable agreement,” said Rick Icaza, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers 770, in a statement sent to media via e-mail.

On Saturday, Councilmember José Huizar presented a letter to the manager of the Vons supermarket on Figueroa Street in Eagle Rock, urging the management of Vons to provide better wages and health benefits to its workers under a new labor contract.

According to both Huizar and UFCW representatives, the management of Vons/Pavilions, Ralphs and Albertsons is asking its workers to pay up to 50 percent of their salaries toward health care costs. According to the UFCW, the companies are not funding a workers’ health care trust fund set aside to help pay for their health benefits in a manner that would cover the benefits they currently have.
“We must preserve good jobs in our community, and stand up for all workers struggling in this economy,” UFCW’s Icaza said, adding: “If we can do that by negotiating a fair deal that shows respect for our members, we will. But we will not hesitate to stand up for ourselves if talks stall again.”

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