Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


San Diego grocery store workers vote on new contract after tentative agreement

Essential workers at Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, and Ralphs locations throughout southern California are voting this week on a new three-year contract. KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Aere says the local voting started today in Chula Vista.

Unions representing food workers across Southern California came to a tentative agreement with the grocery chains on April 4. Now they have a chance to vote to make the new terms official.

Todd Walters, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, described some of what’s in the contract. “There’s going to be some much needed wage increases coming in, those increases will be put throughout different classifications, most importantly to take care of our workers who’ve been held down so long,” Walters said. “We’ve got some improvements on some of the language in our contract, minimum-hour guarantee, so that people don't have to have two or three jobs.”

RELATED: Agreement reached in grocery workers' contract negotiations


Julia Jaramillo came out to vote in Chula Vista on Monday. She’s about to start working in the deli section of a Vons in Eastlake this week after leaving her cafeteria job at Sweetwater Union High School District.

“In the district I only have three and a half hours [working] during the day. It is not enough to live. So, my idea was to look for a job with more hours, with better benefits and with a better salary,” Jaramillo told KPBS in Spanish.

UFCW Local 135 pins rest on top of a table, April 11, 2022.
Jacob Aere
UFCW Local 135 pins rest on top of a table, April 11, 2022.

Walters said the changes would apply to workers from “Bakersfield to the border.”

“Everything is very expensive here in California. Well, living is hard and so if we get a raise, it would be great for us and our families as well,” Jaramillo said in Spanish.

RELATED: Union grocery workers at Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons begin strike vote Monday


Voting continues Tuesday in Escondido, and Wednesday in Mission Valley. Results are expected at the end of this week.

“Minimum wage has been collapsing upon some of our wage brackets and we’ve got 20, 30-year members that are making just two bucks above minimum wage,” Walters said. “We’re not trying to get rich, we’re just trying to have a livable wage in San Diego County. And I think we did it.”

If the contract is ratified through a majority vote of approval, the changes will be applied retroactively, starting March 7, 2022.