Calif. Unions Plan Strike Vote

In an effort to get negotiations moving, members of seven Southern California locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are scheduled to take a strike authorization vote next week.

LOS ANGELES — In an effort to get negotiations moving, members of seven Southern California locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are scheduled to take a strike authorization vote next week.

The voting will involve employees of Supervalu [3]-owned Albertsons, Kroger [4]-owned Ralphs and Safeway [5]-owned Vons, whose members constitute most of the 62,000 workers in the seven locals. Their contracts expired March 6 and have been extended on a day-to-day basis since March 31, subject to a 72-hour cancellation notice by either side.

Employees of the area's two smaller union chains — Stater Bros. Markets [6] and Gelson's Markets [7] — will not be involved in the voting.

According to Greg Conger, president of UFCW Local 324, negotiations will proceed through Thursday and not resume until a week from Monday. He acknowledged that next week — the week in between — had been set aside by the union in advance for a possible strike vote. Asked if the employers knew of that possibility, Conger told SN, "They've been around this rodeo before."

Discussions on the table involve health and welfare, pension and language changes, plus a new pharmacy contract. Conger said there's been no discussion yet of wages, "but that's usually the last thing we discuss."