Members of UFCW Local 1167 gathered in front of Ralph’s on University Parkway in San Bernardino on Aug. 15, calling on their employers to offer fair pay and benefits.
Even though United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) contract negotiators have made progress with Albertson’s and Kroger on some issues in regard to getting workers a new contract, such as preventing cashiers from being demoted and losing pay, UFCW Local 1167 says the two companies’ wage and benefits offers amount to “another nickel a year” to their members vis their website.
As the two sides of the bargaining table remain unable to ratify a contract, grocery workers are taking to the sidewalk to rally the support of their customers and communities.
“Our members are reaching out to the people who matter the most: the customers we serve every day,” says UFCW spokesperson Ellen Anreder. “Their support is crucial as we negotiate for a fair contract.”
At an action event outside Ralph’s on University Parkway in San Bernardino on Thursday, Aug. 15, secretary Matt Bruno said to the community, “We really appreciate your support,: In the event we have to take it to the next level, then we really would appreciate them honoring what we’re doing out here and sending that message back to (the grocers).”
All the while, members made chants such as, “No contract, no peace,” and demanded their employers offer fair terms “now.”
While both sides of the negotiation table say they don’t want a strike, Bruno says “If that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll have to do.”
Ralph’s is owned by Kroger. Albertson’s also owns the Von’s and Pavilion’s chains.
In a press release, Ralph’s said their offers include top-rate increases that exceed those of the 2016 agreement, renewing their ‘Minimum Wage Letter’ benefitting employees working at minimum wage, maintaining current health care coverage without raising worker premiums and stabilizing pensions.
“We are all on the same team and we want the same thing: a thriving company that can employ people with fair pay and great benefits.”
Melissa Hill, Director of Public Affairs for Albertson’s says that balancing fair compensation and financial discipline remain equally important.
“Albertson’s, Von’s, and Pavilion’s remain committed to reaching an agreement that will provide our employees with a competitive compensation package that includes good wages, maintains their affordable health care and provides for their retirement while, at the same time, continuing to keep our Company competitive in the Southern California market.”
Anreder reminds the public this doesn’t mean a strike is guaranteed, but the situation remains sensitive.
“The situation could change at any moment if management keeps making unreasonable demands that undercut our ability to support ourselves and our families. Should a labor action become necessary, we believe the community will support our cause and respect our picket lines.”
UFCW has further action events planned in Apple Valley, La Quinta and Riverside. Negotiations resume on Aug. 22, running through Aug. 25.
Until a contract is ratified, Anreder reminds the public of the UFCW’s bottom line: “One job should be enough.”
Updates can be found at ufcw1167.org, by clicking on ‘negotiation updates.’