SoCal Grocery Workers Union News Conference a Day After Receiving 90% Strike Authorization From Members
The Coalition for Economic Survival and other supporters joined grocery workers for a news conference outside a Ralphs Supermarket on the corner of Vermont Ave and 3rd St in Los Angeles’ Koreatown area on Monday August 22, 2011 a day after members provided their union with an overwhelming vote authorizing a strike.
At the news conference, Rick Icaza President of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 770, announced that due to the strong strike authorization vote by the membership, the companies have agreed to go back to the negotiating table on August 29th.
“I think the employers were testing us as to whether or not they would give us a strike authorization,” Icaza said outside the Ralphs’ market where workers, union staffers and supporters held signs calling on the markets to improve their offer.
Union officials will take the results of a weekend vote to a federal mediator, after union members resoundingly rejected health care proposals from major supermarket chains. More than 90 percent of voters from the Southern California locals of the UFCW, which has about 62,000 members, voted against the health proposal from Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons stores and automatically authorized union officials to call a strike after 72 hours.
Union members have been working without a contract since March. Both sides announced last month that they had reached a tentative agreement on the employers’ contributions to pension benefits, but payments to the union health care trust fund have been a major sticking point.
Union officials say the health care proposal would significantly increase out-of-pocket costs for workers who already make relatively low wages and would lead to the depletion of the fund that supports the employees’ health care benefits.
“I voted to strike because I really care about my healthcare, and I depend on my healthcare for me and my daughter, because I’m not willing to depend on taxpayers to pay for my healthcare. I want to do it on my own,” said Ralphs worker Cynthia Brambila, who has a 5-year-old daughter.
Video of Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice Speaking on News Conference in Support of Grocery Workers’ Demands