More Supermarket Strife? Mediator To Help UFCW In SoCal Grocery Talks

A UFCW protest in Southern California in 2011. Image credit: NBC Los Angeles

Seven UFCW locals covering 60,000 workers in Southern California have been working under an expired contract since March 3. Now, they’ve asked a mediator to step in.

LOS ANGELES, CA—With tensions high in New England and a tentative agreement reached in Colorado, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) is also facing off against Southern California’s three major supermarket chains Albertsons, Vons and Ralphs.

In Southern California, the UFCW represents some 60,000 supermarket workers, from the Central Valley to the Mexican border.

The contract with the three chains and seven UFCW locals covered by the contract expired on March 3.

“In spite of much discussion about our issues and proposals, corporate negotiators continue to slow walk the talks and there has been little progress in the first 6 dates of negotiations,” the UFCW stated in a posted contract update.

“We have requested the assistance of the federal mediator who is planning to attend the next set of meetings on April 18th and 19th,” the UFCW stated.

In 2003, the UFCW-represented workers at Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons went on strike for 141 days.

“The strike was devastating for all parties,” Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, in New York City, told Bloomberg BNA in 2016. “It knocked out the strike fund for UFCW, and Safeway and Vons reported record losses.”

When the strike ended, many had considered it a defeat for the UFCW.

“Why did we go on strike? I lost a lot of money for nothing. I think the guys were misled,” Sunny Kim, 32, a service manager at Ralphs stated at the time.

Since then, although the parties have gone to the brink of having another strike on several occasions, there hasn’t been one since the 2003-2004 dispute.



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