Grocery workers prepare for strike

Mercer 21033

Brian Watt/KPCC

UFCW employees Jose Cruz (left) and Armando Espinoza prepare picket signs.

Contract talks continue between Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons and the union that represents their employees, but the union is preparing for a strike.

The two sides are stuck over over healthcare and welfare benefits.

At the United Food and Commercial Workers Union headquarters, workers hammered together picket signs that read “employees on strike” or “employees locked out.” Neither has happened yet, but the union’s patience is wearing thin after seven months of working on an expired contract. The supermarket chains offered a wage proposal late last week, but union president Rick Icaza called it meager and inadequate.

"We want the employers to continue to make a profit. They’re making billions of dollars in profit, but at the same time, all we want is that our members can pay the rent and their children can go to the doctor," he said.

In a written statement, a spokeswoman from Ralphs said that company hopes the union leadership can work toward a favorable conclusion. Representatives from Vons and Albertsons have not responded to requests for comment.

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