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Los Angeles Grocery Store Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

File photo.

March 10, 2022

With contracts expired, grocery store workers move to push back against violations of labor law and workplace rights, schedule strike authorization votes for week of March 21st

Los Angeles– After weeks of fruitless negotiations, Southern California grocery workers are set to authorize a strike against the corporations that own Ralphs and Vons/Pavilions/Albertsons.

The contracts covering over 60,000 grocery store employees expired at midnight on March 6th.

Bargaining committees composed of front-line grocery workers and union leaders came prepared with proposals that would fairly increase wages and improve store conditions to reflect the needs of workers in a pandemic and post-pandemic world.

The corporations representing the stores offered pennies, a proposal that would ultimately be a pay cut due to inflation.

Worse, the corporations are now engaging in well-documented illegal and underhanded tactics to prevent workers from exercising their hard-earned rights and protections guaranteed under federal and state labor law.

“When the pandemic hit, we showed up to make sure our communities were fed. We put our health and our families’ health at risk – and now the corporate CEOs who hid in their offices and profited off of our sacrifice refuse to share the success and make our stores safer,” said Rachel Fournier, a 17-year Ralphs employee. “Now they are playing dirty and violating our rights. We have no choice but to stand up for ourselves and our families.”

Grocery clerks, meat cutters, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, among other employees working at Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Stater Bros., and Gelson’s are covered by separate contracts. These essential workers are represented by UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428, and 1442, spanning from central California to the Mexican border.

The vote to authorize a strike comes after grocery store workers documented corporate actions to undermine negotiations and violate their right to representation.

Through their union, grocery workers filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons/Pavilions for violating labor laws by surveilling, intimidating, and interfering with employees for engaging in union activity, failing to bargain over bonuses offered to employees and improperly subcontracting employees’ work to outside contractors, among other labor law violations.

NLRB charges against Stater Bros. were also filed after management violated federal labor law by attempting to negotiate with individual members and delaying negotiations. 

Throughout the covid pandemic, grocery store employees have worked in a dangerous and excruciating environment to make sure our communities are fed. Grocery sales skyrocketed, scoring record profits for grocery companies. Kroger –Ralphs parent company– alone made $4 billion in profits in 2021.

A recent independent study from the Economic Round Table called Hungry at the Table showed that 2 out of 3 Kroger grocery store workers struggle to put food on the table, some live in their cars, and many struggle to afford other monthly expenses such as gas, utilities, and other basic necessities.