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The Sacramento Bee reports that Northern California labor leaders are unhappy with the accord reached last week in Southern California after a four-month strike/lockout, saying that a strike this summer remains a possibility.

The paper notes that Jacques Loveall, executive vice president of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local in Northern California with 30,000 members, is saying that his union plans to resist the two-tier wage and benefit scale that was created in the Southern California agreement between the UFCW and Safeway's Vons, Kroger's Ralphs, and Albertsons.

Experts say that the unions are faced with a difficult challenge. Management will look to the southern California agreement as a road map for future negotiations…but labor may not like where that particular map takes them.

One of the UFCW's tactics in the northern part of the state is to build a coalition of support among customers and community leaders that will pressure the chains to be less intransigent than they were to the south. The northern labor leaders already are discussing out load the possibility of a statewide boycott of the three chains.

By some accounts, the southern California strike/lockout cost the three chains as much as $2 billion in sales over the four month period, and there remains concern that it will be difficult to lure some of the shoppers back, now that they have identified alternative sources of food.

"In the next few weeks, the Northern California grocery workers will start meeting. We'll definitely be involved," J.B. Tengco, spokesman for the California Labor Federation, told the Bee. "We will continue to ramp up and build on community and statewide support."

A number of contracts in central and northern California run out between July and September.
KC's View:
The chains may have experienced a lot of red ink as a result of the four-month strike/lockout, but the red stuff they’re seeing now is blood in the water…union blood to be sure.

If the union thinks that northern California and other contracts will be negotiated on a clean slate without reference to southern California, they are, in a word, nuts.

Of course, if management believes that the rest of the negotiations will be smooth as silk, they, too, are nuts.