Grocery Workers Approve New Contract

Voted for Three-Year Pact Covering 62,000 Employees

Representatives of unionized Southern California supermarket employees at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons have approved a contract that averted a threatened strike.

United Food and Commercial Workers members voted Friday and Saturday to approve the three-year pact reached covering 62,000 grocery workers.

“This package protects our members` access to affordable comprehensive health care for themselves and their families,” union official said in a statement late Saturday. The union said the agreement increases wages and protects health care and pension benefits through the life of the contract.

Analysts see Southern California as a trend-setter for the rest of the industry because the area is one of the most competitive food retailing markets in the nation

The union and management were involved in a 141-day strike in 2003 and 2004 — the longest work stoppage in the history of the U.S. grocery industry, which cost some $1.5 billion in lost sales to competitors.

Nonunion food sellers, including Wal-Mart, Costco and Target Corp have chipped away at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons market shares. Whole Foods Market Inc., some ethnic chains and dollar stores have taken a bigger share as well.

The South Coast Biz Blog is a roundup of the latest business news in the Santa Barbara area and is written by Ray Estrada, who has covered business in the region for numerous publications over the past couple decades. See more at and

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