After Eight Months, Southern California Grocery Workers Reach Tentative Agreement with Grocery Chains
**EDITOR'S NOTE: Yesterday, 62,000 southern California grocery workers reached a tentative agreement with the management at Vons, Ralphs and Alberstons, averting a strike and ensuring that the grocery workers could maintain their health care benefits. Our heartfelt congratulations to the UFCW and all who contributed to this victory. The message below comes from UFCW 1428 President Connie Leyva (also president of the California Labor Federation.)
When our Master Food contract expired in March, no one could have imagined that it would take eight months, two strike votes and giving a 72-hour contract cancellation notice (that ran out to the last minute) in order to get a fair contract for 62,000 Southern California grocery workers.
The fact is, no one is getting rich working in a grocery store, and what has made these jobs into good jobs over the years is the affordable healthcare our members have always had. But these three employers, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons, tried to use the downturn in the economy and high unemployment to drastically reduce the standard of living for grocery workers. For eight months — and right up until the last minute — these corporate giants had proposed cutting the Health and Welfare plan to a point where the fund would be bankrupt before the end of the new contract.
We live in a time where corporations hold more money than any other time in the history of our country, but they want more and more off the backs of the workers that make them those profits. But we said, “Enough is enough!”
Our members took to the streets, to the fronts of their stores, walked neighborhoods and educated the public in an attempt to win a fair contract. And win they did! Under the tentative agreement, our members will keep their affordable healthcare, get fair wage increases, keep their hard-earned pensions and have better protections at the workplace. A ratification vote is scheduled for this week.
We know we prevailed because our members were strong and were willing to take the fight to the streets. None of them wanted to, but they also weren't willing to accept a substandard contract just because three corporate giants said they had to.
I salute the UFCW members in southern California for their courage to fight for themselves and workers everywhere! When we work together we win together! And a big thank you to all our union sisters and brothers and community partners for your unwavering support!