Grocery Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

Union leaders say a "yes" vote gives them leverage in negotiating with supermarket chains

By Mari Payton and R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Apr 21, 2011  |  Updated 7:44 AM PDT
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SoCal Grocery Workers Voting on Strike

NBCSanDiego

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SoCal Grocery Workers Voting on Strike

More than 60,000 Southern California grocery workers were voting Wednesday on whether they should authorize a strike.
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Thousands of grocery store workers throughout Southern California voted Wednesday to authorize a strike.

In San Diego, member of Local 135 cast ballots at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Many said they were voting to strike because their health benefits are being cut, their pensions threatened and full time positions are in jeopardy.

Even though, the workers gave their union the go-ahead to call a strike, that doesn't mean a walkout is imminent.

"It was a mandate. We are going to get back into bargaining next week and our goal is to get a deal and we think this strike vote will certainly leverage that deal," said Mickey Kasparian, President of Local 135.

The stores believe the talk of a strike is premature because negotiations are still going on. They believe both sides can reach an agreement

The workers' contract with the Ralphs, Vons and Albertson's chains expired six weeks ago, and they say the grocery stores have been dragging their feet in contract talks.

“We're not asking for more, we're just asking to maintain,” said supermarket employee Denise Deleo.

The last time grocery store workers walked off the job was in 2003-2004 and it cost the chains more than $1.5 billion.

Memories of the strike were still fresh in the minds of shoppers at a Ralph's store, where sympathy for the workers was mixed.

“It would be bad for everyone. They should come to some kind of agreement so they can help workers here,” said one shopper.

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