Southern California grocery workers vote on strike authorization

Ralphs grocery store sign
Ralphs grocery store sign
Frank Farm/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

More than 60,000 Southern California grocery workers are voting on whether to authorize a strike against some of the state's largest supermarket chains.

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 began voting at 8 a.m. Wednesday and will continue through the day. Members are being urged to give union representatives permission to call a strike if contract negotiations bog down.

The union contract with the owners of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons expired last month. In a statement, chapter President Rick Icaza accuses the market negotiators of failing to offer significant proposals on pay and health benefits.

The companies said last week that the vote is premature because talks continue.

A four-month strike and lockout that began in 2003 cost Ralphs and other grocery chains an estimated $2 billion.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.