Southern California Grocery Contract Approved for 47,000 Workers with Strong Customer Support
The last of thousands of ballots have been tallied, resulting in the formal ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement for members of the UFCW from Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions.
Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new contract that improves the lives of 47,000 hard-working grocery workers and their families across Southern California.
Marc Perrone, the President of the UFCW International, released the following statement:
“By strongly voting for a new contract that improves wages and benefits, hard-working members of the UFCW sent a powerful message today about the power that comes from workers and customers standing together.
“This contract not only rewards hard work, it provides affordable healthcare, strong pensions, and critical benefits that ensure our 47,000 UFCW members are able to build the better life they’ve earned. For the millions of customers our members serve, this contract ensures that the high-quality service and food they depend on will continue for years to come.”
The tentative agreement was put to a vote by UFCW 324 members Monday, the terms of which had been agreed to less than 12 hours earlier in marathon negotiating sessions that began last Thursday.
As talks opened, union leaders set Sunday as the deadline for management to make a final offer, saying that members would be voting on the most recent proposal on the table whatever it might be.
“I am overjoyed. I can’t believe it, but this is better than I thought it was going to be,” said union steward and Albertsons employee Dan Flynn. He brought a cake to the union hall to celebrate what he called a “huge win” for UFCW members.
Union leaders nationwide have been watching developments here for weeks as Southern California has long served as a bellwether for future contracts in the industry.
Greg Conger, who will be stepping down from his job as UFCW 324 president Oct. 1, also had high praise for the agreement. “I can’t think of a better way to go than on the heels of probably the best contract we have ever negotiated,” said Conger.
The final contract includes substantial pay hikes for all category of workers and maintains pension and healthcare benefits with improvements in some areas.
Management had been unwilling to make any concessions for months, prompting unions to hold large, vocal demonstrations outside dozens of stores over the previous three weeks.
Those rallies and other actions drew more than 550 member volunteers who expressed a growing impatience with management’s tactics at the bargaining table.