Grocers strike may be averted

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/19/2011 12:00:13 PM PDT

After going to the brink of a widespread work stoppage, three supermarket chains and the union representing their employees have reached an agreement, that if ratified, would avert a strike.

“Everyone here is happy, and our members our ecstatic,” said Connie Leyva, a union negotiator and president of the United Food and Commercial Workers local that represents grocery employees in the Ontario and Pomona areas.

The United Food and Commercial Workers announced the tentative deal around 11:30 a.m. Monday, about 16 hours after both sides missed a deadline after which the union would have been able to go on strike against the three grocery chains involved in negotiations, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons.

UFCW members will be able to vote on the proposed deal on Friday.

“Our stores are open for business as usual,” Albertsons spokeswoman Christie Ly said.

Negotiators stayed in talks through Sunday night and the dark hours of Monday morning, Leyva said.

Union leaders announced late Friday that their members had cancelled their contract with the grocery chains and were preparing to leave work and picket stores if a 72-hour deadline passed without a deal.

That move followed two strike authorization votes that took place after the union’s last collective bargaining agreement expired in March.

Leyva said she was absolutely certain the UFCW would not have been able to reach a satisfactory deal without hard-nosed negotiating tactics.

Grocers also maintained a tough posture until the end of the bargaining process.

After the union’s announcement, grocers delivered statements saying they wished to continue negotiating, however, Albertsons also announced that managers were considering closing stores in the event of a strike.

Grocers had also accepted applications from temporary workers who could have been brought on to manage stores in the event of a work stoppage.

Now, movement toward a work stoppage is halted as grocery employees prepare to vote on a new contract.

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