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Food 4 Less workers authorize strike

By Cory Minderhout
From The Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Food 4 Less supermarket workers recently authorized a strike, some two months after an intense labor dispute ended between the supermarket workers’ union and three of the largest supermarket chains in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Union members voted late last week to authorize a strike, said Mike Shimpock, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union local 770. The vote came shortly after supermarket negotiators walked away from the negotiating table, he said.

Kroger is the firm that owns Food 4 Less. It also owns Ralphs supermarkets.

Three phone calls and one email to Kroger went unreturned on Wednesday.

Ralphs, Albertsons, and Vons were locked in a months-long labor dispute with the union that ended in September after the supermarkets agreed to increase their contribution to an employee health care fund.

“We’re looking for a similar deal that was reached in the last negotiations,” Shimpock said of the Food 4 Less talks. “That was a fair deal.”

The union also hopes to increase workers’ wages and hours, Shimpock said.

Food 4 Less employees kept their contract when the “big box” grocery chain was sold to Kroger about 10 years ago. That’s why they are under a different contract than Ralphs employees, he said.

The two sides are scheduled to continue negotiations later this month, a union news release said.

“The goal is to get back to the table and negotiate a deal,” Shimpock said. “We don’t want to strike.”

The Food 4 Less supermarket on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country is the only Food 4 Less in the Santa Clarita Valley.