Grocery workers free to strike
September 18, 2011
In a bid to speed up negotiations that have dragged on for more than eight months, officials from the United Food and Commercial Workers gave a 72-hour notice on Thursday to cancel their labor contract extension with the region’s three leading grocery chains — a mandatory final step before a walkout. [LATimes]
Without a contract, grocery workers can strike at any time, but the cancellation does not guarantee workers will strike today.
Health care costs, worker scheduling and future staffing levels have been the primary obstacles to a new contract.
Officials with Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons have been laying plans in the event of a grocery store strike – Ralphs will close, Albertsons may close and Vons plans to stay open, the Los Angeles Times said.
“If there is a strike, Ralphs will initially close all of our stores,” store officials announced in a statement. “During a strike, it is difficult to create a good shopping experience for our customers and a good working environment for our employees.”
Albertsons said in a statement: “We are disappointed that union leadership decided to take this step. We are still in active negotiations…. We don’t want a strike, and we hope to continue bargaining rather than continue to alarm our associates and our customers.”
During a previous strike in 2003, both sides held their ground during a four month standoff that cost the stores more than $2 billion and gave competitors an opportunity to step into the gap, the Los Angeles Times said.