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    SoCal Walkout Coming? Labor Talks Get Critical

    Fresh & Easy looking to hire 100 for new stores

    As grocery store workers appeared poised to go on strike against two major supermarket chains in Southern California, at least one other grocer is gearing up to add to its employee ranks.

    Labor negotiations in the Golden State seem to be hitting a critical juncture, the Los Angeles Times reported, as this weekend “an estimated 62,000 grocery workers in Southern California will vote for the second time on whether to give their union locals the go-ahead to strike.” The first time around, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers, the vote to authorize a strike was “overwhelming.”

    Appearing to brace for the inevitable, “this week, Albertsons and Vons began taking applications for people willing to cross a picket line and work during a strike,” the Times reported. Ralphs, owned by Cincinnati-based Kroger, has not yet started recruiting strike workers. Vons is owned by Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, while Albertsons is owned by Minnesota-based Supervalu Inc.

    Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of New York-based Strategic Resource Group, told the Times that the second strike vote also will be a way for labor to gauge the current mood of its members, as California’s economy has deteriorated since the first strike vote was taken. “It also comes as Target has converted virtually all of their stores in the area to carry groceries,” Flickinger said. “[It] may not guarantee people are going to walk out, but the odds become highly likely that they will.”

    Meanwhile, El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is looking to fill more than 100 positions over the next several weeks, including positions for four new stores in the Los Angeles area.

    The non-union company, which reports creating more than 4,000 jobs in California since 2007, is currently accepting applications for available positions at www.freshandeasy.com/joinus for two Los Angeles stores, one in Anaheim Hills and another in Sunnyvale.

    “We are pleased to continue to bring good jobs with affordable and comprehensive benefits to even more neighborhoods throughout California,” said Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. “We pride ourselves in being a great place to work and we are consistently striving to create a culture in which people look forward to coming into work each day.”

    Entry-level positions at Fresh & Easy start at $10 an hour in California and include quarterly bonuses of up to 10 percent, a 401(k) with company match, a paid-time-off program and life skills training. Fresh & Easy reports more than 200 store employees were promoted to management positions last year. Additionally, Fresh & Easy offers all employees who work at least 20 hours a week comprehensive health coverage.


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