Grocery Workers Strike Averted

by on September 19, 2011 · 10 comments

in Labor, San Diego

By Channel 8 News

A strike by 10,000 grocery workers in San Diego County was averted Monday when union negotiators struck a tentative agreement with the owners of Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons/Pavilions.

The two sides faced a 7 p.m. Sunday strike deadline, but labor talks continued through the night, with both sides indicating that some progress was being made.

About 62,000 employees of the chains throughout Southern California – including those in San Diego – have worked without a contract for six months, and the two sides were in dispute over worker health care costs.

Details of the tentative agreement were not released, but union officials said the pact would protect workers’ health care.

“We have attained our most important goal, which was continuing to provide comprehensive health care to the members and their families,” according to a statement by union leaders, including Mickey Kasparian of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, in San Diego.

The deal still needs to be ratified by union members. That process was expected to begin later this week.

A 141-day grocery workers’ strike in 2003-04 cost the stores an estimated $1.5 billion and forced many workers to seek different employment.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Outlaw September 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

WOW!! So I guess the stores will remain open, and no picket lines (at least for now).

I was watching San Diego 6 and they were reading some of their facebook comment, and it was the same thing I’ve been hearing. “They’re lucky to have a job!” and other stating they were going to walk right past the line. I think that’s easier said than done, but the important thing is at least there is some agreement.

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avatar doug porter September 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

ahem, trolls & concern freaks: the union used the threat of a strike, combined with demonstrations at various stores as a negotiating tool. it worked.
they knew they had little chance with public sentiment in a town where the news media wouldn’t report on their side of the issue–the fact that management’s original bargaining position would have likely bankrupted their health care fund (they are self insured) barely ever got mentioned.
would they have gone on strike? yes. when you make a threat you have to be prepared to follow through, despite the potential consequences. the one thing that the union did have going for it in the event of a strike was the solidarity that other unions were showing. the adage that “an injury to one is an injury to all” has come alive again in the 21st century.
would the stores have prevailed in the event of a strike? we’ll never know. obviously they didn’t feel real confident or they wouldn’t have announced that they were planning on shuttering so many locations.

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avatar Daniel Beeman September 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I was quoted with my comment on Channel 8 during the 11pm news broadcast. I said I wouldn’t shop at Ralphs again if “the grocers decide to take the ball and go home”, quote was a lot longer, but highly edited: (from my facebook page)
{Daniel Beeman} I’d also mentioned: ‘I was shopping at Ralphs because my Reward Certificate, only redeemable at Ralphs, would expire if they were closed long, and I looked at my other “Ralphs” coupons so I could get the benefits/rewards I had earned would be used. I also mentioned that during the last strike they had broken the labor union to $9 an (starting) hour wages from $10 an hour, and had compromised on other benefits also, and that I felt people can’t afford to live on $10 an hours, let alone $9, and that the parents would be now subsidizing the corporations their children are now working at.’ That point never seems to make the news! Hey, we all need healthcare, we all need housing, and it helps to have transportation and no one can get along with out food and some other basic nessecities. Some one will have to pay for that! If not the employer, who I believe should first, then the parents, or us the taxpayers so employees don’t starve and go homeless, &/or die of sickness/injury. Employers used to be responsible, now they are stockholders & corporations.
15 hours ago · Like

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avatar thinking out loud September 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Stop they are lucky to have the benefits ….A crap load of other companies have terminated benefits due to the economy….
shopping at ralphs because of your rewards certificate?? great reason…..nuf said.

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avatar Daniel Beeman September 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Not enuf said. We need to stand up for those who continue to receive benefits we not only deserve, but need! If they, the employer doesn’t pay, it will mean we all pay as we do not let people die who need healthcare, but it does cost us much much more when it is not treated early. Sadly we seem here is San Diego to be okay with families, veterans, and many many others being homeless???!!!! (If you do care: see you at Sleepless in San Diego (Sept. 24 & 25) just over the hill from you all at Liberty Sta. )
The price will be very very high if we let more corporations erode basic employee benefits. And that machine at Albertson’s, Von’s, will not treat your sickness, build you a home, or even care that your trying to save the earth with a re-usable bag as it says: “please remove the object from the area!!” as you try to bag your own stuff because the company is too cheap to invest in your neighborhood- ie your neighbor!!! Yeah, they’ll take your green $tuff, but never give it back!! I feel a vacuum because something really sucks!

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avatar thinking out loud September 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm

well then move on to the 1,000s of construction workers who are sitting home with no job and no medical coverage…at least grocery workers had a job and they bitched about kicking in a few bucks a month…get a clue …

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avatar annagrace September 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

TOL- your response to 1,000’s of construction workers out of work is to tell people who make $9/hr and will be left without medical coverage in the near future to just suck it up and be happy? Sure solves that 1,000’s of construction workers out of work problem….

I have read your comments from first thing this morning- beginning with your snark about the Denny’s review, and I have read everything since. You know what? I’d appreciate more thinking, and less out loud. You have offered one big nada to everything you have commented upon.

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avatar daniel beeman September 20, 2011 at 9:33 am

t.o.l., I pray for all unemployed & under-employed each day (my faith only), no one deserves not to be unemployed(underemployed) if they are willing to work and legal citizens. [I believe foreigners should stay in their own nation and fix it before coming here to take jobs we need for our own citizens.] But having more people employed, WITH GOOD BENEFITS, or high enough pay to provide for their own benefits, is good for your unemployed construction workers, too! More people working mean more need for construction: business growth, need for homes/additions nearer to work, etc, meaning your friends will get those needed jobs that much quicker. I’m truly sorry for your friends without work. Please keep up your skills, training opportunities! TONIGHT; tues. 5pm, 4600 block of Clairemont Mesa Blvd. SDG&E energy Ctr, has FREE meal and training (Gas combustion heaters/systems) , also if you know HVAC systems, they (the industry/Utility co.s) are looking for teachers to help educate others. I’m there to learn more about systems to educate home/business owners to make more efficient energy use and save money while also benefiting from rebates, tax deductions/credits, and free equipment (consulting, install, maintenance too). P.S. This year, the IRS has a 100% tax deduction, off business income, for building/property improvement [a one time deal]. Go talk to your business friends! Also note SDG&E is giving help (free loans, credits, free energy saving equipment, etc) for these improvements. This ends 2012. Have a great day.

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avatar annagrace September 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Daniel- well said.

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avatar Lorena Gonzalez September 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Dear OB Rag,

Thank you for being part of the efforts to support the grocery workers during their contract negotiations. We are excited to let you know that there will not be a Grocery Worker strike! UFCW Local 135 – along with the other locals across Southern California – came to a tentative agreement this morning with Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. This agreement, which will be voted on by the union members on Friday, protects healthcare and retirement benefits for the grocery workers. It is nothing short of a victory!

The media has described this settlement as a win-win, and we can’t agree more. A win-win is exactly what happens when workers have a strong union to collectively bargain a contract; and, it’s what happens when workers bravely stand together and demand respect on the job. We have been inspired by our grocery workers, who refused to allow the economy to become an excuse for massive healthcare takeaways, and by Mickey Kasparian, President of Local 135, for showing such incredible leadership.

Still, avoiding a strike was also possible because of the tremendous support and solidarity the labor, faith and progressive communities in San Diego showed over these past few months. For that, we thank every one of you!

Remember, you can’t defeat a people who refuse to stop fighting. Keep up the good fight!

In solidarity,

Lorena Gonzalez
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council

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