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Smart & Final warehouse workers vote to unionize

Some 300 employees make up the latest addition to the growing grocery labor union movement

As part of an ongoing move by grocery employees to labor unions, more than 300 warehouse workers at a Smart & Final Distribution Center in Commerce, Calif., have voted to join Teamsters Local 630 in Los Angeles.

Smart & Final operates more than 250 grocery warehouse stores in California, Arizona, and Nevada, and is part of Chedraui USA, a grocery retailer with 24,000 employees supporting 375 stores under the Smart & Final, El Super, and Fiesta Mar banners.

Earlier this month, 220 warehouse workers at natural and organic supplier United Natural Foods Inc.’s Rocklin, Calif., facility, voted to join Teamsters Local 150 in Sacramento, Calif.

“I'm looking forward to working with Local 630 to negotiate a fair contract that’s on par with the other food distribution centers in our industry, such as Vons, Albertsons, and Ralphs,” Joe Lagano, a 32-year warehouse worker at Smart & Final Distribution Center, said in a statement.

The Smart & Final warehouse workers are seeking consistent standards, better health care, a path to retirement, an end of favoritism, improved safety, and respect on the job, the Teamsters said.

“Workers voted to join Local 630 because they see the strong representation, better wages, benefits, and strong protections that come with a Teamster contract,” Lou Villalvazo, secretary-treasurer of Local 630, said in a statement.

Last November, the Teamsters union said its members ratified a new contract covering 1,500 warehouse workers and truck drivers at The Kroger Co., providing improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions.

A report from Bloomberg law, meanwhile, found that the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents 835,000 grocery workers in the U.S. and Canada, more than doubled its victory count in 2022, winning 111 of its 158 elections. That compares with 51 victories in 74 elections in 2021.

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