LOS ANGELES — Jesse Jackson joined other clergymen and community activists last week at a meeting with several Ralphs store managers here in a show of support for union members two days before the workers were scheduled to vote on a contract offer.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union was recommending a “no” vote on the offer, a local union executive told SN.
The tipping point in bargaining has been health care. A union executive told SN last week the latest offer from the employers provided a funding stream for health and welfare coverage he termed “woefully inadequate.”
An employer spokesman told SN “there's been no agreement on health care and no proposal on wages, nor any comprehensive proposal by either side.”
The union said members will be voting on the latest health care proposal offered by the chains and some language changes.
Following the meetings with Ralphs managers, Jackson told local media the cost of health care is “driving people into a hole. They have been driven into poverty.”
The last bargaining sessions took place Aug. 17 between the UFCW and Kroger-owned Ralphs, Safeway-owned Vons and Supervalu-owned Albertsons.
That session ended with the employers still “crunching numbers” on the union's wage proposal that had been presented several days earlier, according to an employer representative.
Both Albertsons and Ralphs last week advertised for temporary workers in the event of a strike.
The union's contract with the employers expired March 6, and the members gave the union authorization to strike in April.