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Negotiations Ongoing Between Grocery Chains and Union Leaders

As major grocery store chains and union leaders negotiate a new contract, employees and consumers can only remember the costly strike and lockout from 2003.

Negotiations Ongoing Between Grocery Chains and Union Leaders

Tom Fudge:  For four months in 2003, a labor dispute disrupted the lives of San Diegans, when it came to one of their most ordinary experiences, buying groceries. Union workers at Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs went on strike. Suddenly, hundreds of thousand of local shoppers had to decide whether to cross picket lines.  They had to decide whether it was important to them that the cashiers they saw every week earned benefits and a living wage.

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The 2003 strike caused much hardship for southern California grocery workers.  And it cost the grocery chains an estimated $2 billion in losses.  The contract that finally came out of the strike created a two-tier system of wages and benefits, one for veteran workers and another for new hires.

  
On Monday, that contract is due to expire, and the union and the stores have still not come to terms.  What are the issues this time around? And could there be another southern California grocery strike?  The current contract between the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons expires on March 5, 2007.

Guests

  • Mickey Kasparian , president of the Local 135 Chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
  • Adena Tessler, spokeswoman for Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons
  • Scott Horsley, business reporter for NPR who has covered contract negotiations between the grocery chains and unions

Break 1 Music:   Blackbird by Brad Meldau, from the album Deregulating Jazz (2000)

Break 2 Music:   The Plug by Bonobo, from the album Animal Magic (2000)

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End Music:    Dayvan Cowboy by Boards of Canada, from the album  The Campfire Headphase (2005)