L.A. Officials Weigh Support for Expanded Health Benefits, Wages
Local government officials in Los Angeles are considering strategies to support expanded health care benefits and higher pay for workers as contract negotiations between grocery chains and union leaders continue, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is negotiating with three grocery chains in Southern California: Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons (Mathews, Los Angeles Times, 4/30).
The union is working to eliminate a two-tier employee system that is in the current contract. Under the system, new employees have longer waiting periods to qualify for health care benefits and must pay a greater share of the cost.
The current contract with all three chains was the result of a 4.5-month strike and lockout in 2004. A new contract typically is renegotiated every three years (California Healthline, 3/27).
According to a labor leader, a Los Angeles ordinance has been proposed that would set standards on employee health care benefits and salaries that businesses must meet before the city would support businesses' applications to the state for liquor licenses.
Michael Shimpock, a media consultant hired by the grocery workers' union, said the union could support legislation similar to a 2005 New York law that requires grocery stores with 35 or more workers to provide about $2.50 in health care benefits for every hour an employee works (Los Angeles Times, 4/30).