Grocery Workers Seek New Contract
Updated: May 19, 2022
LOS ANGELES, CA – On April 2, The United Food and Commercial Workers local union gathered to create picket signs in preparation for a possible strike. Grocery workers prepared to strike against Vons, Ralphs, Pavilions, and Albertsons.
Seven unions across Central and Southern California negotiated against major companies for a better contract. Negotiations included higher wages, safer stores, and better staffing.
UFCW members said that a strike is a last resort but they are prepared to walk out if companies don’t reach a fair agreement.
The UFCW bargaining team called for a contract reflecting employees’ work through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Raymond Smith, a Ralphs employee, said that he hopes that the companies come to their senses.
“These stores are taking advantage of us,” Raymond said. “They are not giving us a fair deal, and frankly, we are fed up,” Raymond said.
Workers hammered signs that read “Please respect our picket line” and “Ralphs employees on unfair labor practices strike.”
UFCW 770 said that Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons made as much as $4 billion in profits last year. They claim that profits went toward giving raises to investors and CEOs.
The union also said that wages haven’t significantly increased in years. In negotiations, the companies offered an annual 60-cent-per-hour increase.
Kathleen Scott, an Albertsons Employee, said that workers didn’t receive enough support through the pandemic.
“We kept the economy alive, we kept people alive, and we did it with zero support from the companies,” Scott said. “While we were fighting to do this, they were getting massive bonuses.”
Employees are asking for a $5 hourly raise over three years. Kathleen Scott says that the pay will barely be enough for inflation.
Pepe Paredes, a Ralphs employee, started working at the peak of the pandemic. Paredes said that he struggled to deal with challenging customers.
“Working during the pandemic was chaos,” Paredes said. “It’s very overwhelming because we barely get any breaks. There isn’t enough staffing.”
After ongoing negotiations, the UFCW union and these major companies reached a tentative agreement on April 4.
The new three-year contract includes significant wage increases, guaranteed hours for part-time workers, stronger health benefits, improved store safety, and a secured pension.
The new deal allowed grocery workers to put a strike on hold.
Video credit: Vanessa Garcia
By Vanessa Garcia
Photos: Vanessa Garcia
Video: Vanessa Garcia