Southern California Supermarket Chains, Union Grocery Clerks Fail To Reach Contract
About 70,000 Southern California grocery clerks represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers could strike as early as Saturday after contract negotiations with supermarket chains over health care and pension benefits failed Sunday, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. Grocery store chains, including Albertsons, Kroger's Ralphs and Safeway's Vons, have proposed a plan that would require union members to begin paying part of the cost of their health coverage. In addition, the grocery stores' plan would require employees to pay as much as $75 for prescription drug coverage and end their dental and vision care benefits, according to Rick Icaza, president of the UFCW Local 770. Union members plan to hold three days of voting on a possible strike starting Wednesday; at least two-thirds of the members have to approve the strike, according to union rules. Icaza said that the union leaders plan to recommend that workers reject the stores' offer and authorize a strike. If the strike is approved, it will affect almost 900 stores from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The workers' previous contract expired Sunday (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.