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<!–:en–>GREAT SOCAL GROCERY STRIKE OF 2011 AVOIDED<!–:–>

September 19, 2011

As a sign of bad economic times with lots to lose for both sides, it seems that the big Southern California grocery strike of 2011 that would have idled 62,000 grocery store workers will not be happening. Going beyond the last minute, grocery union officials and negotiators for Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons have reached a tentative deal on a labor contract. The negotiations between United Food and Commercial Workers officials and the three grocery chains, which stretched throughout the night and well into the morning, had grown urgent after a deadline for a possible grocery strike passed Sunday evening.

The contract covers an estimated 62,000 checkers, baggers, meat cutters and other grocery workers across the region, including those employed by Ralphs, which is owned by Kroger Co. of Cincinnati; Vons and Pavilions, owned by Safeway Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif.; and Albertsons, which is owned by SuperValu Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn.

The contract also covers employees at other retailers, including Stater Bros. Markets, which are negotiating separate deals with UFCW’s seven area locals.

The current negotiations hark back to 2003, the last time Southern California grocery workers and their employers faced a similar standoff over labor issues. The subsequent 141-day strike and lockout that began that fall left many union members with staggering debts. It reportedly cost the employers an estimated $2 billion and gave competitors an opportunity to step into the gap with the big three grocery chains going from having over 60% market share at the beginning of that strike to a 23% market share which they have today.

Details of the tentative agreement have not been made public, pending ratification of the contract, according to union officials and a statement from the grocery chains. 09-19-2011. HRM Partners.