Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Southern California Grocery Workers Inch Closer To A Strike


60,000 Southern California Grocery workers are inching closer to a work stoppage. Union members in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside County are taking strike authorization votes Friday and Saturday.

— Union workers at Vons, Ralph's and Albertsons already voted to approve a strike back in April. That was a month after the old contract expired. Six months later negotiations are dragging on, so the union's called for another strike vote.

Union negotiators said the stores won't fully fund the health care packages they're offering in the new contract. That's moving workers closer to a strike.

"We're talking about a very short period of time," said Mickey Kasparian, president the United Food and Commercial Worker's Union Local 135. "And we're still hopeful we can get a deal, make no mistake about that, but I think the chances of that are dwindling right now."

Union officials are asking members to vote for a walkout at the region's three largest grocery store chains. The stores are already bracing for the possibility of a work stoppage.

"We've got an obligation to our customers," said Fred Muir, a spokesman for Alberstons. "We've got to keep the stores open and functioning because they depend on us. So yes, we have posted signs in all of the Albertsons stores saying we are taking applications for temporary replacement workers."

The last strike and lockout lasted months and cost the stores market share and billions of dollars in revenues. Union workers also agreed to lower pay for new workers and to take on a bigger share of health care costs. The dispute is a familiar one to both sides.

"Mainly it's the issue of escalating health care costs, and the supermarket industry's attempt to shift those costs directly to the workers," said Kent Wong of the UCLA Labor Center.

The stores and Union have agreed to hold at least one more negotiating session after Friday's and Saturday's strike vote. If a strike is authorized, the union has to give the chains 72 hours notice before setting up picket lines.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.