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Raley’s Nears Labor Agreement

Raley’s Nears Labor Agreement

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Union workers at Raley’s Supermarkets here are expected to vote in the next couple of weeks to approve new labor agreements following a 10-day strike that ended last week — concluding more than a year of talks with three Northern California chains to negotiate a successor contract to one that expired in October 2011.

Unionized employees at Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway will also be voting at about the same time on a similar contract proposal that was negotiated without any labor interruptions. The union had reached agreement with Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif., in September.

The UFCW is recommending that workers at Raley’s and Safeway vote to ratify the proposed contract, a union spokesman said.

Raley’s was struck at midnight, Nov. 4, by United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5 and Local 8-Golden State. Five days later the union reached an accord with Safeway.

Raley’s maintained that more than half of its union employees were crossing the picket lines, while the union said it was successfully turning consumers away from the stores.

Read more: UFCW, Safeway Reach Accord in No. Calif.

Local sources said Raley’s asked the union to re-open negotiations, which resulted in a tentative agreement at 8 a.m. last Tuesday that prompted the union to halt the picketing immediately and ask its members to return to their jobs.

Voting by Safeway members was delayed while the union focused on the strike against Raley’s, the union spokesman noted. He said he expects workers from both companies to be invited to attend informational meetings later this month and then asked to return ballots through the mail.

Details of the agreement were not made public, although the union said both chains had agreed to retain the union’s health benefit plan, including coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees.

Read more: Save Mart's New Contract Could Adopt Co-Pay

In a joint statement Ron Lind, president of Local 5, and Jacques Loveall, president of Local 8-Golden State, said, “This is an important accomplishment for our members and retirees. In a very challenging time, we were able to address Raley’s competitive concerns while protecting our membership.”

Michael Teel, president and chief executive officer of Raley’s, also claimed a partial victory in the tentative agreement. “This contract provides us with the cost savings we need to fund our vision and the initiatives to make us more competitive in the 21st century,” he said.

He also expressed relief the strike was over. “It is important to remember that everyone, including our employees, our customers, our company and the communities we serve has suffered in this labor dispute, so it gives me great pleasure to know our employees will be back to work serving our customers with the same attention and care as always.”

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