SoCal grocery union head says contract protects health benefits

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Brian Watt/KPCC

Rick Icaza, president of UFCW local770, at Ralphs at 3rd and Vermont, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011

United Food and Commercial Workers Union President Rick Icaza said Tuesday that it took a 72-hour strike notice to get a good deal for grocery workers at Southland Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. Members of the union will vote on the three-year contract Friday and Saturday.

Without giving details of the tentative contract agreement, Icaza said the union’s tough bargaining stance achieved the most important goal.

"We preserved our health care with new plan designs and we feel that the monies that they have given us will adequately fund it for the period of time," Icaza said. "What had happened during the eight months that we were struggling was that they refused to come up with enough money to fund it. We would have lost our health care within 16 months if we had accepted that proposal.

Villaraigosa 'excited' that SoCal grocery stores, workers dodge strike

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who’s in Washington, D.C., says he “couldn’t be more excited and more satisfied” that the workers and the stores avoided a strike.

"I’m an old-fashioned believer," Villaraigosa says. "When people stay at the table, reach across the table and try to work things out, almost always you’ll find a solution to the conflict. So this is good news and I’m very excited about it."

Villaraigosa says a grocery store strike would have hurt stores, workers and shoppers. The mayor is in D.C. to lobby members of Congress for a jobs bill.

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