Tentative deal reached to avoid SoCal grocery worker strike

LOS ANGELES — Ralphs and Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions and the union representing thousands of grocery workers reached a tentative agreement to avert a strike Sunday.

The workers will begin voting on the deal Monday, with results announced on Thursday, said union officials, who added that details of the agreement would be withheld until after the voting.

“We believe this agreement is a step forward towards our vision of what grocery jobs should be in the future,” said John Grant, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770. “Consumers and community leaders stood with us to show our value and the impact we have in our stores and communities. We have many to thank for their support.”

“We are pleased to have worked with the union to secure increased wages, continued premium health care coverage, and pension. Our associates are the heart of our company and this agreement is a reflection of their contributions,” Ralphs spokesman John Votava said.

The company posted the following update online Saturday:

“Ralphs and the seven Southern California UFCW locals have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract covering the company’s 18,000 associates working in 190 stores in Southern California. The parties were assisted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.

“The union will share the details in upcoming ratification meetings.

“Thank you for your patience during this process and your commitment to serving our customers and community.”

A spokeswoman for Albertsons, which owns Vons and Pavilions, also confirmed that a tentative deal had been reached.

The union announced June 26 that its membership had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if union leaders opt to call one. The vote raised fears of a repeat of the 2003-04 Southland grocery strike, which dragged on for 141 days.

The contract between UFCW and the grocery companies expired in March. That pact was approved by workers in 2016 and included annual raises for most workers, along with increased pay for entry-level cashiers and concessions on holiday pay and retirement age, union officials said at the time.

UFCW represents an estimated 60,000 grocery workers in counties stretching from the Central Coast to the Mexican border.

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