Jesse Jackson backs Southland grocery workers at Ralphs protest

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FILE: Civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson gives an interview near Parliament on October 20, 2010 in London, England.

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson visited a Ralphs supermarket in South Los Angeles today. He offered support to union grocery workers locked in contract talks with three major supermarket chains.

Southern California grocery workers are fighting proposed health care hikes.

Jackson and other activists met with local Ralphs executives Wednesday at a Los Angeles store to express their concerns. Jackson says he'll hold another meeting with supermarket higher-ups.

Some 62,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union have worked without a contract since March. Union officials say negotiators at Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons stores have proposed unacceptably large increases in employee health care costs to workers.

Jackson and some workers said they want a new contract, not a walkout. A four-month strike and lockout that began in 2003 cost the store chains an estimated $2 billion.

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