YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

L.A. Area Grocery Workers Approve 3-Year Contract


Southern California's major grocery retailers averted a strike this week when members of the Teamsters union voted overwhelmingly to approve a three-year contract that includes wage hikes and no increase in health care costs.

The contract covers more than 5,000 workers at Kroger Co.'s Ralphs grocery chain, Albertson's Inc., Stater Bros. Markets and Safeway Inc.'s Vons. The workers are based in the Los Angeles area but deliver goods to most of the markets in the state.

The workers covered by the pact were operating under a contract extension that expired Friday. Negotiators from both sides worked overnight Friday, and six locals voted overwhelmingly Saturday and Sunday to approve the new contract, union spokesman Don Owens said.

"There will be grocery harmony in Southern California for the next three years," said Owens, noting that there hasn't been a Teamsters grocery strike in the Southland since 1985. The union had authorized a strike about a month ago, he said.

The contract calls for hourly wage increases averaging 50 cents in the first year and 45 cents each year for the following two years. The boost will bring the hourly pay of the average union worker to $19.90, Owens said.

The contract also includes keeping health benefits at existing levels. The retailers had sought to increase employee deductibles and co-payments, Owens said.

The labor difficulties between dockworkers and their employers at West Coast ports did not figure into the negotiations, Owens said.

He said the Teamsters union was successful in sweetening the terms of the contract, which it hopes to use as ammunition in efforts to organize workers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The retailer has announced plans to bring its Super Wal-Mart format, which includes groceries, to California.

Los Angeles Times Articles