A new three-year contract for grocery workers was approved by 87% of the union membership, creating their biggest pay raises in decades with the region’s largest food chains. The ‘yes’ vote on the contract, after a strike authorization vote two weeks ago by union locals is a significant step forward for the ‘essential’ workers. With 47,000 employees at 540 Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores all over Southern California, the contract sees the biggest pay raise in more than a decade.
According to the Los Angels Times, the grocery chains agreed to raises of 19% to 31% over current pay levels for most workers. Part-time employees, about 70% of the workforce, are guaranteed 28 hours weekly, up from 24.
Kroger – the parent company of Ralphs, and Albertsons – the parent company of Vons/Pavilions came back with an offer more than twice what they had initially proposed before the strike authorization.
“The companies were afraid of a strike,” said Kathy Finn, secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 in Los Angeles. “Our members were more unified and militant than they’ve been in a long time.”
Ralphs said the company was “pleased” with the agreement and Albertsons called it “fair and equitable.”
In January, the companies had proposed a raise of just $1.80 an hour over three years for the highest-paid long-term employees including cashiers. They ended up agreeing to $4.25, raising those wages to $26.75.
Another group, including lower-paid deli workers and shelf stockers, will get a $5.25 boost over three years, raising their wages to $22.27. Workers will progress to top wage tiers at a faster rate and medical benefits will expand.
The bottom third of the workforce, baggers and clerk’s helpers, will get a 95-cent raise to $16.34 an hour.