No Strike: Union, Grocery Store Leaders Reach Tentative Agreement

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Updated at 1:00 p.m. Monday.

Union leaders and the “Big Three” grocery chains have reached an agreement—leaving 62,000 Southern California workers on the job.

The success of the talks, which continued through the weekend, was announced at about 11:30 a.m. Monday.

In a press release, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union which represents the workers, said a tentative contract agreement was made, putting an end to the negotiations that began in February.

“Thanks to the unity of our members, we were successful in bargaining an agreement that grocery workers can be proud of,” the union negotiators said in a statement, noting that “protections” to health care benefits were made. “We have attained our most important goal, which was continuing to provide comprehensive health care to the members and their families.”

Negotiators for Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons, also acknowledged their contentment with the settlement agreement.

“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,” the chains said in a joint statement. “We appreciate the hard work, support and patience that everyone has shown during the past seven months, and particularly the past few weeks.”

The workers, 10,000 of whom reside in San Diego County, will be asked to ratify the agreement. Specifics on the deal will be released to the workers preceding ratification votes.

Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons grocery store workers in Southern California went on strike for 141 days in 2003-04 after contract negotiations stalled primarly over health care issues—causing an estimated $2 billion in losses.

The majority of readers of Patch sites in San Diego County were not surprised by the settlement. In an online survey, 57 percent predicted no strike would occur. Of 217 responses at 12:50 p.m., 124 said workers wouldn’t strike, while 73 (33 percent) said a strike would last more than a month.  Only 8 percent foresaw a strike of a week or a day in the unscientific poll.

Check back with Patch for more updates.