Grocery workers employed by Albertsons, Ralphs and Vonsin Southern California have ratified a contract that took nearly eight months to negotiate and had many Californians preparing for what appeared to be an imminent strike, the union representing grocery workers said over the weekend.
Word came at 8:16 p.m. Saturday in an email from Bleiweiss Communications on behalf of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
“As recommended by the union leadership, the members voted to approve an agreement that was reached on Sept. 19 with negotiators from Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons and UFCW Locals 8, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442,” Bleiweiss said.
The representative called this a pooled vote of all local unions Friday and Saturday in Southern California.
“In keeping with the union’s longstanding policy, the actual numbers are not being released,” Bleiweiss said.
“There was a sense of relief when people had a opportunity to really look over the new contract and see what was in it,” said food clerk Mario Frias, a 22-year Ralphs employee, quoted by Bleiweiss.
“This package protects our members’ access to affordable comprehensive health care for themselves and their families,” union leaders said. “That was our top priority throughout the negotiating process.
“We owe our success to our members, who stood united and strong, and to all of our loyal customers who pledged their support for the workers.”
The new contract affects about 62,000 workers in a region that spans between Kern, Inyo and Mono counties in the north, the Mexican border in the south and the Arizona border in the east. Its term will extend from Mar. 7, 2011, to Mar. 2, 2014, the union said.
On Friday, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the new contract would end tiered health benefits, where new workers paid more.