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S.D. Supermarkets, Union Workers Locked Over Health Coverage


Aired 4/19/09

Health benefits are a sticking point in the fight between San Diego's chain grocers and union workers. It's the same problem that crippled the industry three years ago. KPBS Radio's Andrew Phelps reports the health care model may have to change.

The Labor Center at UC Berkeley is paying attention to San Diego. Ken Jacobs is the chairman. He says 7 percent of grocery workers hired under the current contract have health coverage. Compare that to 90 percent who had it before the strike of 2003 and 2004. Jacobs says employers can't afford health care anymore. It may be time for the government to step in.

Jacobs: What's happening in the grocery industry is indicative, if much more dramatic, of what's happening in the rest of the economy -- and really points to the need for statewide and national solutions to the health care crisis.

A crisis because employers are losing their workers. Jacobs says the turnover at local supermarkets has nearly tripled since the strike. For KPBS, I'm Andrew Phelps.

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