Employees of two of West Hollywood’s largest grocery stores, Pavilions and Ralphs, may go on strike if Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union is unable to get the owners of those stores to come to terms on the union contract.
Officials with Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union announced today that its members have voted to approve a strike authorization stemming from unproductive contract negotiations with grocery companies.
“Southern California grocery workers voted in large numbers, and overwhelmingly rejected the unfair terms that have been proposed by Ralphs, Albertsons, and Vons,” said UFCW Local 770 President John Grant. Pavilions is part of the Vons brand, while Vons is owned by Albertsons.
The voting was conducted Monday and Tuesday of this week, Grant said. Exact tallies of the votes were not immediately released. However, on its website Local 770 says that 96% of the stores union members voted against the contract.
The contract between the union and the companies expired in March. The strike authorization vote means union negotiators have the power to call for a strike, if deemed necessary.
Grant said the union plans to meet Thursday with picket captains to discuss “various forms of economic protest” to oppose the failure of negotiations and to try to “get these companies back on the right path to provide a fair contract.” The job actions could include asking customers to boycott stores, Grant said.
Meetings are pending next week involving the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor to discuss authorizations for the member unions to honor possible picket lines, Grant said.
The next bargaining sessions involving the union and the companies are scheduled for July 10, 11, and 12, Grant said.
Mike Shimpock, communications director for Local 770, said the negotiations are centered on the rate of contributions that the store owners agree to make to a fund that covers health care and pensions for their employees who are union members.
Employees of Gelsons also are members of the union. Shimpock said Gelsons traditionally signs on the contract once negotiaoins have been completed. “Gelson’s has been a very good employer,” he said. “We don’t anticipate there being an issue with Gelson’s.”
Employees of Whole Foods, Smart and Final, and Trader Joes are not members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.