Full-scale strike remains possible
Published : Friday, August 2, 2019 | 4:40 AM
The Ralphs Market in at 3601 East Foothill Boulevard East Pasadena was ringed with about 40 informational picketers from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Aug. 1, as the contentious contract clash between management and labor was taken up a notch.
Some 46,000 UFCW workers across the Southland have been working under extensions of the prior contract, which expired March 3. The dispute is over the companies’ wage and work classification proposals, and affects workers at Ralphs and Albertsons — which now owns Vons and Pavilions.
UFCW Local 770 called the Pasadena demonstration a “tabling action,” designed to demonstrate union solidarity and inform customers about the particulars of their fight. Other UFCW Locals involved in talks for a region-wide master agreement are 324, 1167, 135, 8, 1428 and 1442.
Through such actions, the union claims to have obtained 10,000 signatures from shoppers at Ralphs, Albertson and its two subsidiaries, Vons and Pavilions, pledging support for grocery workers.
Ralphs is part of the Kroger Company. Other stores in the region targeted by the union for like action on Thursday included Ralph’s #133 on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, Ralphs #100 on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and Ralphs #741 in Camarillo.
In June, union members voted overwhelmingly (96 percent ) to authorize their leaders to strike if necessary and have ratcheted up their rallies and demonstrations throughout the region during negotiations.
The result, at least by union lights, is that the grocers dropped a proposal to move cashiers from the higher-paid clerk category to the lesser-paid one which would reduce checker pay by 25 percent as well as another to eliminate unused sick leave payout.
The actions are coinciding with three days of negotiations that began July 30, during which the union said it made proposals to increase minimum hour guarantees, protect schedules and plan for the future of work.
“Negotiations for a new contract continue this week with some positive momentum,” according to Ralphs spokesman John Votava. “As we have said all along, negotiations can be a long process and take time… With a balanced approach, this next agreement can be a win for everyone – our associates, our communities and our company.”