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UFCW, Raley's to Meet Thursday

SAN JOSE, Calif. — United Food and Commercial Workers Union Locals 5 and 8 said Wednesday they plan to launch a strike at midnight Saturday against the Nob Hill division of Raley's unless the two sides can reach a contract settlement.

In an effort to head off the strike, the chain and the unions are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator Thursday. The union also said it plans to have a public rally Thursday in Sacramento with members of other unions whose support it has lined up in the event of a strike.

In a letter to employees Tuesday, Michael Teel, president and chief executive officer of Raley's, asked employees "not to walk out on us until you have been given the opportunity to vote on our last and final offer."

He said Raley's had 40 stores at the end of 2011 that were losing between $500,000 and $2 million a year. He also said he had opened the company's books to UFCW auditors, "and I personally met with both union presidents [in late September] to share with them our financial forecast that again clearly showed we were losing millions of dollars a year.

"Our [lst and best] offer is not only fair but it is what we need to preserve the future of our company.  A strike at this time would devastate the company, causing us to lose thousands of customers – forcing us to close more stores and to lay off hundreds of our employees."

The union said Raley's decision to implement a new contract without a member vote would trigger a walkout.

Read more: Raley's Plan to Implement New Contract

The UFCW said it plans to have a public rally Thursday in Sacramento with members of other unions whose support it has lined up in the event of a strike. In a recorded message to members, Ron Lind, president of Local 5 here, said, "[Raley's] leaders initially believed our members and our union lacked the resolve to fight. They have now discovered they seriously miscalculated."

The two sides have been in negotiations for more than a year to reach agreement on a new contract to succeed one that expired in October, 2011. Nob Hill workers voted last spring to authorize a strike.

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