business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports that unionized employees at Southern California's largest supermarket chains "turned out in large numbers" yesterday to vote on whether or not to give the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) a strike authorization that would add additional tension to current contract negotiations.

According to the Times, "The results of the vote won’t be available until Tuesday night. But grocery workers historically have followed the union’s suggestion on whether to vote no or yes on a strike, said officials from the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents about 47,000 clerks, meat cutters and merchandise stockers across Southern California. The union advised members vote to authorize a strike."

The chains affected include Kroger-owned Ralphs and Albertsons-owned Vons, Pavilions and Safeway.

The Times writes that "according to union officials, the grocery companies want to give workers a 10-cent-per-hour raise over the next three years, reduce the companies’ additional contributions to pensions, and ask workers to put in several more months of work before they can reach the highest pay level of $20.10 for a clerk."
KC's View:
Both sides are said to be anxious to avoid the epic 143-day strike that brought the region’s supermarkets to their knees in 2003-2004 ... though I think it is fair to say that the chains probably are more worried, considering the market share hits they took back then.