In the increasingly contentious arena of Northern California grocery negotiations, nearly 5,000 UFCW Local 5 members employed by Lucky-Save Mart voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, after the company announced it was issuing and moving to implement its last, best and final offer, which would result in $5-per-hour reductions in pay or layoffs for hundreds of members throughout Northern California.
Workers from Lucky and Save Mart stores voted in record numbers to authorize a strike. Twenty-six meetings were held in four days from Ukiah to Salinas and east to Vacaville. Four hundred voted San Jose and five hundred cast ballots in Hayward alone. In the end, 94% voted in favor of authorizing the strike.
The mood of the membership was determined, and all hands were resolute in their insistence that the grocery industry continue to provide middle class jobs and benefits for active and retired members. As a result of the vote, unprecedented in recent memory, the company has agreed to continue the negotiations under the auspices of the federal mediator and to work out a settlement by July 10.
The Lucky-Save Mart vote takes place on the heels of a strike vote at Raley’s-Nob Hill. Talks at that chain have been strained since the company hired Bob Tiernan, a union-buster who led the drive at Berkeley Bowl to decertify Local 5, as their head of labor relations. Tiernan, former chair of the Oregon Republican Party, has been quite clear in his desire to tear down conditions in the grocery industry that have taken decades to build up. The membership is not going for his con job however, and voted by 96% at Nob Hill and by 99% at Raley’s to strike if necessary. As the company has not implemented and since the parties are on a day-to-day extension the union has not called a strike at this time.
Meanwhile, talks with Safeway have been progressing, and though there are disagreements between the company and the unions on significant issues, everyone is keeping a cool head and continuing to negotiate. Health and welfare, which was already a difficult issue, has become even more so with the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on the ACA. Talks continue with Safeway on Friday July 6 and Saturday July 7.
Negotiations at independent markets like Lunnardi’s, Mollie Stones and Draeger’s are on hold pending the outcome of talks with the major chains. At this time, the membership of UFCW Local 5 requests that you continue to shop as usual at your neighborhood union market. We also ask that you make it clear to management that you expect them to continue to provide the good wages and benefits our members deserve, so that you can have the peace of mind to continue to shop there.
We invite you to stay up to date with our negotiations at www.ufcw5.org, supportgroceryworkers.com, on our Facebook page and via our smartphone app. We know that you support your local grocery workers and ask that you sign a pledge card and adopt a store at the website. Thank you for your continuing support!