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Albertson’s Employees Give Union Strike Mandate

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Thousands of grocery store workers are closer to walking off the job. Employees of Albertson's have given their union a strike mandate. Joanne Faryon is here to tell us more.

65,000 employees of three southern California grocery chains are in contract negotiations. And yesterday, Albertson's employees voted to strike if the union and company don't reach an agreement. It was only three years ago grocery shoppers were met with picket lines.

The labor dispute then lasted four-and-a-half months. It’s estimated the three grocery chains -- Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons -- lost a total of $2 billion.

The three chains involved in contract talks account for about half of the grocery business in southern California. Much of that business was diverted to stores like this one as customers found other places to shop:

Ronnie Gumabom : I just took my business somewhere else. It’s just different on the inside because people didn't know what they were doing. They were just hired, I went to talk to the meat guy, the meat guy is like: ‘I gotta go find somebody.’”

Although, some people say it's a hassle to drive further to do their grocery shopping, and they'd consider crossing a picket line.

Anonymous :  You got to do what you got to do. Just like they gotta do what they gotta do. I don't spend a lot of money here anyways. I get my produce elsewhere like Costco.

Les Eliason : Gotta eat. You have no choice. When you gotta eat, that's the next important thing -- next to breathing.

The key issues in contract talks are wages and a two-tiered employee system that was agreed to by both sides of the 2003/2004 labor dispute.

No strike date has been set. The earliest workers could walk off the job is April 13.

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