BUENA PARK — A new supermarket offering discount prices has sued three unions, three locals and, in an odd twist, rival Ralphs Grocery Co., alleging illegal picketing as part of their efforts to organize the market's workers.
Super 1 Foods in Buena Park, which seeks $2.5 million in punitive damages, alleges that the unions and Ralphs illegally blocked entrances and exits, blocked deliveries, intimidated customers, directed "vile, profane, obscene and abusive language" at workers and urged patrons to shop at the Ralphs store a block away and other major supermarkets.
More than 70 pickets, including a manager from the nearby Ralphs store, demonstrated at Super 1 on Feb. 4, said Carol J. Salgado, lawyer for the supermarket. The suit contends that Ralphs thereby joined union organizers in urging customers to shop at Ralphs or other major supermarkets.
"That's not true," said Steve Jinright, one of the managers at the nearby Ralphs. He would not elaborate, and corporate executives could not be reached for comment.
The suit also seeks a court order halting mass picketing. The unions agreed in court on Wednesday not to conduct such demonstrations at least until after a Feb. 25 hearing in Orange County Superior Court, Salgado said.
The defendants include the union attempting to organize Super 1 workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and three of its locals. Executives could not be reached for comment.
Mohammad Vazin, who owns the Super 1 Foods franchise, said pickets have been outside his store on Beach Boulevard since Feb. 1.