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ROSEVILLE, Calif. - United Food and Commercial Workers 588 - Northern California, which represents about 19,000 grocery workers from the Central Valley, Sacramento, and north to the Oregon border, has come to a tentative agreement with area grocers including Safeway, Inc., Albertsons, Inc., and Kroger-owned Ralphs, avoiding a possible strike at the last minute.
Policies at issue during negotiations were employee-paid premiums for health care benefits and a two-tier wages or benefits structure. Dec. 19 was the deadline for reaching an agreement, after which the union said it was prepared to vote on whether to strike.
According to a statement from Safeway, UFCW will now present the tentative agreement to its membership for ratification. Details of the settlement are being withheld pending ratification.
“Our challenge from the start was to protect the superior wages and benefits that 588 members have enjoyed for decades, while addressing the competitive atmosphere in the supermarket industry and skyrocketing health costs,” UFCW 588 e.v.p. Jack Loveall said in a statement on the union’s Web site. “I am pleased to report that we’ve succeeded in that challenge in all our new contracts –- with Albertsons, Bel Air, Nob Hill, Raley’s, Ralphs, and Safeway.
“UFCW 588 - Northern California and Albertsons, Ralphs, and Safeway have agreed on tentative terms for a new labor agreement that will set the standard and formula for other negotiations facing these complex issues,” continued Loveall.
A statement issued by the union’s Bay Area Coalition said: “The UFCW Bay Area Coalition, representing 30,000 grocery workers throughout Northern California, supports the members of UFCW Local 588. We applaud them for standing strong throughout these difficult negotiations, and will continue to support them through the process of their contract vote.” The statement added that talks were continuing in the Bay Area at a “measured pace.”