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LOS ANGELES - An official from the United Food and Commercial Workers said Friday the union stopped picketing at Kroger Co.'s Ralphs stores, but will attempt to expand pickets against Safeway Inc. and Albertsons Inc. stores to areas where contracts are currently not under negotiation, according to a Dow Jones newswire report.
"Ralphs, from our standpoint has not taken a hard line in the negotiations, and if we were sitting down with Ralphs individually, and they weren't part of this pact, then in my opinion we wouldn't have a strike," said the union official.
Ralphs' employees will remain locked out, but will not continue to picket, he said.
He added that UFCW is pushing for grocers to break the pact that caused Ralphs and Albertsons to lock out UFCW employees when Safeway employees declared a strike on Oct. 11. He said the union would like to negotiate separately with the three grocers.
The union official, speaking to a Dow Jones reporter in a conference call, also said the UFCW is trying to expand its picketing efforts to stores in areas that aren't currently negotiating contracts. Northern California would likely be the first step, he said.
Meanwhile, he said the UFCW is going to assign Ralphs workers to pickets at Albertsons and Safeway stores, and will also send picketers to grocers' distribution centers and warehouses, which are staffed primarily by Teamsters.
Though not on strike themselves, Teamsters have vowed to honor UFCW picket lines. By picketing at distribution centers, UFCW workers hope to stop Teamsters from doing their job.