Members of Grocery Workers Union Local 770 have voted to authorize a strike if their negotiators can’t reach a deal with the parent companies of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. Rick Icaza is president of the local that represents tens of thousands of workers at those chains. He contends that the companies are stalling.
The slow-moving contract talks have continued since January, and employees continue to work under the terms of a contract that expired last month. Icaza says that while the grocery chains want to reduce health and pension benefits, they haven’t made a firm offer on wages. He adds that he wants to avoid a strike, but he says an authorization gives the union’s negotiators some badly-needed leverage.
“I think the employers are gonna look at this and say to themselves, ‘We have the authority to go forward,’ and instead of what they’ve been doing in the past – stalling – they’re gonna sit down and bargain in good faith,” said Icaza.
The supermarket chains maintain that they’re bargaining in good faith; they call the strike authorization vote premature. The two sides return to the bargaining table next week.
If the union decides to strike, it must notify the grocery stores 72 hours before employees walk out.