• Workers Demand New Contracts at Arcadia Vons Headquarters

    ARCADIA (CNS) – Hundreds of grocery workers took to the streets today,
    rallying outside the corporate headquarters of Vons in Arcadia and Albertsons
    in Fullerton to push for a new contract.
    The workers’ contract with the Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs expired March
    6, but they have continued to work under the terms of the previous pact.
    Members of the union representing grocery workers — United Food and Commercial
    Workers Local 770 — voted in April to authorize a strike if a deal isn’t
    Hundreds of workers rallied this morning outside the Arcadia
    headquarters of Vons, then moved south for a midday rally at Albertsons
    headquarters in Fullerton. They plan to rally later this afternoon in Compton,
    outside Ralphs headquarters.
    “While these grocery chains scored $5 billion in profits over the last
    three years, they want to shift the cost of health care to workers and
    taxpayers just to boost their profits another 3 percent,’ according to Rick
    Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770. “We want a fair contract that respects the
    workers who are the backbone of these profitable companies.’
    John Grant, secretary treasurer of UCFW 770, told Fox11 there has been
    no progress on the key issue of employee health care, “and we haven’t even
    gotten to discussing wages yet.’
    “We have to show the companies, because they seem to be blind, deaf and
    dumb, that the community wants a decent contract for their grocery workers,’
    he said.
    In a joint statement, officials from the grocery chains said they remain
    committed to reaching an agreement with the union, but said they were
    “disappointed’ by the union’s response to a health-care proposal made by the
    stores 42 days ago. The response “did nothing to address the rising cost of
    health care, even though we’ve been talking about that issue for months.’
    According to the statement, the health-care proposal called for employee
    contributions of $9 a week for single coverage and $23 a week for family
    coverage — compared to the national average of $76 a week for family coverage.
    The companies also noted that half of their employees pay no weekly
    contributions for health care, and those hired after March 2004 pay $7 a week
    for single coverage and $15 for family coverage.
    “The union leaderships’ attention would be better focused at the
    bargaining table as we are discussing difficult issues, and tough problems are
    not solved easily or quickly,’ according to the companies’ statement.
    The sides have already reached an agreement on pension plans.
    Both sides are working to avoid a repeat of the 2003 grocery store
    lockout, which affected the Albertsons, Ralphs/Food For Less and the
    Vons/Pavilions chains. The lockout was implemented by the stores after the
    workers had authorized a strike.
    Picket lines altered shopping availability for millions of Southern
    California customers for more than a month and resulted in tumultuous staff
    turnovers and rough economic times for the locked-out workers.

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