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No Progress Made in Supermarket Strike

October 26, 2003|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Striking Southern California supermarket workers and their employers reported no progress Saturday in the two-week walkout over health benefits.

"Still no word from the employer," said Barbara Maynard, a spokeswoman for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, which represents 17,000 grocery workers in Los Angeles County.

"Since the strike was called, the parties have not met," said Stacia Levenfeld, a spokeswoman for Albertsons Inc.

Union members acknowledged that store traffic had picked up from the first week, but said sales were still running at less than half the usual pace.

"People are going to want to come back to their own store. That's our fear," said Veronica Banuelos, who was walking the picket line in the heat Saturday morning at a Pavilions store in Arcadia, where about 40 strikers rallied in the parking lot. "It's depressing. We just want to get back to work."

Strikers said they hoped Safeway Inc., which owns the Vons and Pavilions chains, Albertsons Inc. and Kroger Co.'s Ralphs would be motivated to settle the strike and lockout by mid-November, before the holiday shopping rush.

About 10 a.m. Saturday, the Pavilions store on Naomi Avenue in Arcadia had 18 shoppers and a mostly empty parking lot. Strikers estimated that sales at the store were down 80% the first week and 70% the second week.

A spokesman for the chain could not be reached for comment.

An Albertsons on Huntington Drive in Monrovia had 21 shoppers about 2 p.m., a figure one striker called "very slow for a Saturday."

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