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A federal grand jury indicted eight former and current Ralphs Grocery Co. employees on 23 counts for actions they took during the 2003-2004 Southern California grocery workers strike.
The United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said that a current v.p. of Ralph’s parent, The Kroger Co., as well as a former Ralphs v.p., two former Ralphs zone managers, and a former Ralphs district manager, will face charges for their roles in a scheme to rehire locked-out employees using false names and Social Security numbers. The five could each face up to 30 years in prison if convicted, and are scheduled for arraignment next month, according to published reports.
In addition, a current district manager and two former Ralphs store directors are charged with making false statements to investigators.
A Kroger spokesperson said that Ralph’s is cooperating with the U.S. attorney, and that “we fully respect the judicial process and the privacy of those involved and we understand this is a difficult time for the individuals and their families," referring to the indicted ex-managers.
The UFCW, however, didn’t have such kind words for those involved. "Ralphs' criminal behavior extended the labor dispute, enabling it to avoid reaching an agreement with our union and causing needless suffering to our members," said UFCW Local 135 president Mickey Kasparian. "We are pleased that individuals who put our members through five months of pain are receiving the appropriate consequences."
The indicted executives are Scott Drew, now a v.p. of Kroger; former Ralphs v.p. Patrick McGowan; former Ralph’s zone managers Charles Vance and Randall Kruska; and Karen Montoya, a former Ralph’s district manager.
The lockout involved 19,000 Ralphs clerks and meat cutters from its Southern California stores, and lasted four months, ending in 2004.