Ralphs grocery stores said Monday that a tentative agreement has been reached with United Food & Commercial Workers Union locals, which represents its workers.

The agreement covers 19,000 Ralphs employees at 256 stores in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties.

According to the Associated Press, the tentative agreement came a day after the passage of a Sunday evening deadline that would have permitted union leaders to begin a strike at any time.

Union members voted last month to authorize leaders to call a strike after the two sides failed to reach agreement over payments to the union’s health care trust fund. About 62,000 union members have been working at Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons stores without a permanent contract since March.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement that will continue to provide our associates the best total compensation package in our industry in Southern California,” said Donna Giordano, president of Ralphs. “The patience displayed by our associates during this process has been nothing short of remarkable. I want to thank them for the service they provide every day to our customers and our company.”

The unions will schedule voting meetings with their membership for ratification.

Kroger is the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer and employs more than 338,000 workers in 2,439 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.

The company operates 788 convenience stores, 361 fine jewelry stores, 1,046 supermarket fuel centers, and 40 food processing plants in the United States. Kroger is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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 independent.com/biz and wordpress.com/southcoastbizblog.


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