Grocery Union Edges Closer to a Strike

Clerks votes on strike authorization

The Southern California grocery strike of 2003/2004 was long and brutal. It lasted 141 days and opened the door for non-union grocery stores to steal business away from Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons.

Now the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) is voting on authorizing a strike once again.

"We have to go through these strike votes for the employees to negotiate seriously," said the UFCW Local 135 president Mickey Kasparian.

This is the fourth union contract since the epic strike. Since that strike, there's been a shift in shopping demand, stores like Trader Joe's, Walmart & Target have stolen away a large percentage of shoppers.

On top of that, stores like Aldi, Winco, Grocery Outlet and Smart & Final have either moved into town or expanded.

Still, grocery clerk and long time union member Andrea Oldakowski says they can't sit back and take cuts to their existing contract.

"I'm a native of San Diego so I know the prices are only going to go up," said Oldakowski. "The cost of living is going to go up and our wages need to improve."

Carlos Illingworth with Vons/Albertons said by email: "We remain committed to negotiating a contract that is fair to all parties, including our employees, and will continue to work to achieve that."

"A strike authorization vote is premature and only serves to cause concern for associates and customers," said Kendra Doyel with Ralphs. "We encourage union leadership to return to the table on our agreed upon upcoming dates and work out an agreement that is good for our associates and allows us to remain competitive in the market.”

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