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UFCW Members in Southern Calif. Ratify New Agreement with Food 4 Less

Food-4-Less-300x200Members from UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428, and 1442, have ratified a new three year agreement with the grocery chain Food 4 Less. The previous contract expired June 8 and workers were prepared to take a strike vote if necessary.

The agreement covers more than 6,000 grocery workers at 100 Food 4 Less stores. The new contract increases wages, protects pension plans, and maintains affordable healthcare.

Members reported that during negotiations, the company was pushing for changes that would undercut worker rights, including cutting the number of full-time jobs and cutting funding for healthcare expenses. Food 4 Less dropped its demands after seeing that employees were standing strong against any changes that could hurt workers.

Through social media, UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian credited the ratified contract to the “unwavering solidarity” of the membership, and thanked customers and the public for supporting Food 4 less workers during their contract campaign.

“Thanks to the support of consumers and our members’ resolve, we have reached a tentative contract deal that protects employees’ wages, hours, and health care. We would not have been able to accomplish this without the backing of the public and all our members,” said UFCW Local 770 President Rick Icaza.

Food 4 Less, owned by Kroger Co., was the last grocery chain in Southern California to reach a deal on a new contract. UFCW members have recently ratified contracts with all the major grocery operators in Southern California including Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, Stater Brothers, Gelsons, and Super A.

Southern California Locals Unite To Support Food 4 Less Grocery Workers

Workers at Southern California Food 4 Less locations from UFCW Locals 1428, 770, 135, 1167, 324, 1442, and 8GS all came together in a strong show of solidarity last week for a fair contract.

Customers standing in support of Food 4 Less workers at Local 770's action.

Kroger, the parent company of Food 4 Less and Ralph’s, has been treating its Food 4 Less employees worse than those at Ralph’s, and when they went into negotiations with workers on June 19th, they offered nothing but takeaways.

Not willing to stand for unfair treatment, on June 26th a majority of members from the local unions voted overwhelmingly to strike should one become necessary. But after returning to the bargaining table on July 2nd, Kroger’s offer was no better.

So this week, on Wednesday July 9th, members and workers from each of the Food 4 Less locals came out in full force to hold actions at dozens of Food 4 Less stores across southern California. There, they asked customers and community members to stand with them in their fight for a fair contract, and were met with an outpouring  of positive feedback.

UFCW members collected signatures from customers pledging their support for the workers, passed out information, and proudly wore their solidarity buttons at the actions.

At one of the actions attended by members of Local 1428, workers from non-unionized retailers like Big Lots and Lowry’s came out to support the workers, and talked about how they wished they had union representation at their workplaces.

The locals will return to the bargaining table again within the next few weeks, strong and united.

An assistant manager at Big Lots signs a petition in support of Food 4 Less workers at the Local 1428 action.

A Food 4 Less worker wears her "Hard Work Fair Pay" button.

Passing out info about a fair contract to customers and community members.

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.