By Errol Schweizer
Over 48,000 California unionized grocery workers have voted to strike in a bid for higher wages and better working conditions. Members of 7 UFCW locals across 540 stores from the Mexican border to Central California approved the strike authorization by a margin of 95%, signaling that thousands of grocery workers are ready to walk out.
Union contracts at Kroger and Albertson’s banners, including Ralph’s, Von’s and Pavilions, expired as of March 6th. Negotiations have been ongoing since January, with workers pushing to earn higher wages, better schedules for part-time workers and improved health and safety conditions as the pandemic continues; thousands of unionized grocery workers fell ill from Covid-19 and hundreds died. The union proposals include a $5 per hour raise over 3 years, while the companies have offered $1.80 and rejected proposals to improve worker safety and minimum guarantees of staffing.