Union officials have released a statement that grocery workers are ready to strike if current negotiations fail. Working without a contract since mid-March, local grocery employees at Ralphs, Vons/Pavilions, and Albertsons voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike according to union results announced on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
“Through the past two years of the pandemic, it was the hard work and sacrifice of our members that helped these … companies earn billions in profits,” it said in part. “As we continue at the bargaining table, all of our Local Unions are committed to getting a contract that reflects everything these essential grocery workers have contributed to their employers, their customers, and their communities.”
The vote comes with both sides slated to resume negotiating this week. The vote doesn’t guarantee a walkout, but it ups the stakes as union representatives and store owners attempt to iron out a new labor contract weeks after the current contract expired.
The grocery industry has pulled in record breaking profits over the past two years, with Kroger alone taking $4 billion in profits in 2021.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s nearly 48,000 workers began voting on Monday. The workers contend that grocery chains are enjoying record profits as inflation soars, and they are asking for significant pay raises and increased staffing. The strike vote involved workers from Central California to the Mexico border at more than 500 stores.
Before the vote, Ralphs issued a statement saying, “We have three very clear objectives; to put more money in our associate’s paychecks, keep groceries affordable for our customers and to maintain a sustainable future for our business.” Other stores have not weighed in publicly.