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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Grocery Strike Averted, Agreement To Be Signed Friday [Updated]

Albertsons, Ralphs, VONS and the United Food and Commerical Workers Union will vote on the new agreement Friday.

 [UPDATED | Sept. 20, 1:31 p.m. PDT: Union president announces that strikes at three major grocery chains have been averted, and representatives will vote on an agreement on Friday.]

Union president Rick Icaza announced Tuesday that with community support, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons have come to an agreement and will solidify it by the end of the week.

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative settlement agreement with the union that continues to preserve good wages, secure pensions and access to quality, affordable health care – while allowing us to be competitive in the marketplace. We appreciate the hard work, support and patience that everyone has shown during the past seven months, and particularly the past few weeks. Details of the tentative agreement were not made public pending ratification.”

Grocery workers prepared over the weekend as a strike deadline approached. (Associated Press)
Grocery workers prepared over the weekend as a strike deadline approached. (Associated Press)

Union workers had been battling with Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons since March over healthcare.  The chains' most recent proposal was that its employees pay $36 per month for individual health insurance and $92 for family insurance. Employees were still unhappy and claimed the company was being stringent with their money, according to UFCW 770 Spokesman Mike Shimpock.

While talks went late into Sunday night, union representatives for Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons passed out picket signs and held a candlelight vigil outside a Pavilions store in Beverly Hills as they counted down to the proposed, and now bypassed, 7 p.m. strike deadline.

Ralphs and Albertsons had threatened to close, while VONS planned on remaining open and hiring replacement workers, according to store representatives. Other potential affects could have included a boon in customers and sales for competing grocery stores.

Not wanting to repeat the 2003-2004 strike fiasco, in which the chains lost $1.5 billion, Mayor Villaraigosa  said in a statement on Sunday, "I urge both sides to reach an agreement to avoid a costly and damaging strike. Find a way to keep LA working."

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