Grocery Strike in San Diego?

by on June 12, 2019 · 3 comments

in Labor, San Diego

Whether there is a grocery strike in San Diego – and other parts of Southern California – could very well be decided on June 24 when union members from 7 different locals vote on whether to authorize a strike or not. If there is a strike, it would be against 3 major grocery chains, Albertsons, Albertsons-owned Vons, and Kroger-owned Ralphs.

The San Diego local, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, will vote at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley, near Local 135 offices. If a strike is authorized by the membership, a strike could be called at any time by the leadership.

The other UFCW locals involved in the contract negotiations are Local 8, based in Bakersfield; Local 324 of Buena Park, Local 770, based in Los Angeles; Local 1167 of Bloomington; Local 1428 of Claremont; and Local 1442 of Inglewood.

The Times of San Diego reported:

Todd Walters, president of Mission Valley-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, said Friday that bargaining had stalled in talks that began in March. A three-year contract expired March 3, but provisions are still in force.

On Facebook, Local 135 said the companies were delaying, demanding takeaways and would “slash wages for cashiers,” give “inappropriate wage increases that do not reflect the minimum wage, 20 cents for top rate clerks, less than 1% increase” and “put healthcare plan at risk of bankruptcy.”

The post added: “The time has come to show the corporations we won’t take this anymore and they need to get serious about a fair deal. This will show them we are united and ready to fight for what is right.”

Reportedly, Local 135 leaders asserted Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons “continue to play games and push unacceptable takeaways and concessions.” An offer of less than 1% pay raise was proposed by the company negotiators, and union reps said the funding proposal that “threatens our health plan.”

It was during talks between the parties up in Costa Mesa on Monday when UFCW leaders called for a strike vote. In a statement to its members, the locals said: “Unless there are significant changes in their offer, your employer is giving us no choice but to take action.”

A big issue for the workers is the double-tiered pension system set up by the companies at the end of the last strike 15 years ago. The newer employees get a fraction of the pension the older employees receive.

Union advocates are pushing for striking workers to be eligible for unemployment insurance. There’s a bill for that up in Sacramento, authored by San Diego’s own Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher.

A Vons employee, Donna Villagomez, made a statement circulated by the regional union HQ; she said:

“Striking is the last resort of workers working to influence working conditions, but employers keep too many workers in fear because they are one paycheck away from missing the rent or a car payment. When workers are eligible for unemployment insurance, they can stand up for fair treatment and workplace conditions knowing their families won’t become homeless.”

If there is a vote for a strike and a strike is called, of course there will be some inconvenience for a sector of San Diego consumers, especially if they honor the picket lines. But there will be a lot more inconvenience for those out on the picket lines, a lot more. They wouldn’t be out there unless they were feeling pressed up against a rock and a hard rock, between accepting a less than 1% raise or going out on strike.

If there is a strike, please honor those picket lines and find alternatives – there’s plenty.




{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter from South O June 12, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Don’t just honor the picket lines by avoiding crossing them, but give the pickets a horn honk of support. It means a lot, believe me.


Eric June 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Ditto what Peter said. Retail grocery is a very hard way to scratch out a living. It can’t be seen as a career anymore. Walking the line sucks.


OBKid June 13, 2019 at 11:11 am

More Automated Check Out Lines and Check Out Robots coming to a Grocery Store near you. Not to mention the robot stockers that will be used.


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