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Tentative Grocery Worker Pact Reached

Southern California grocery union officials delivered good news for the 47,000 rank-and-file members who as recently as Tuesday had been bracing for a strike over stalled contract talks.

Bill Raden

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Southern California grocery union officials delivered good news for the 47,000 rank-and-file members who as recently as Tuesday had been bracing for a strike over stalled contract talks. With a Monday deadline looming, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770 announced yesterday afternoon that it had negotiated a new contract for retail food and meat workers at Ralphs Grocery Co. and Albertsons (which also owns the Vons and Pavilions supermarket chain).

We have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs, pending our members ratification vote on Monday on August 8,” a statement on the UFCW website said. It added that negotiations were still in progress for Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs pharmacists. Workers have been without a contract since March.

Union members had authorized a strike against the supermarkets in June and set an actual strike vote for August 8. Though exact details of the agreement have not been made public, talks had reportedly deadlocked over increased worker health care costs, proposed cuts to employer pension contributions and raising the retirement age from 60 to 65.

In 2003-2004, a bitter, nearly five-month work stoppage and lockout cost Ralphs and Albertsons $1.5 billion in sales and provided inroads to Southern California’s lucrative market by upstarts like Walmart and Target. The new contracts will cover employees at about 350 stores in Southern California.

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