Negotiations are underway between Grocers and Union members that will affect workers in Nevada County. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8 represents Northern & Central Calif. with about 400 members who live or work in the Grass Valley area. Local 8 President Jacques Loveall says in an e-mail to KNCO that most of them work for Raley’s, Safeway and Save Mart, which are engaged in contract negotiations with the Union. Another 111 Union members work at SPD, whose current contract does not expire until next December. Grocery Outlet is not a Union store.
The original contract expired on Oct. 8, but its terms have been extended several times since negotiations began last summer. At Safeway and Save Mart, the extension goes to Feb. 25, 2012 and the current extension for union members at Raley’s is set to expire on Jan. 24.
The union president says One of the major issues is the growth of non-Union retailers like Walmart, WinCo and Fresh & Easy that tend to provide lower wages and benefits than Union employers, who are feeling competitive pressure to lower benefits as well, especially in the areas of health care and workplace rules. Lovall says Grocers want to end health care for retirees altogether. He says the union is vigorously pushing back against these proposals.
The last supermarket strike in the United States happened in Southern California 11 years ago. Almost 60,000 UFCW members in that part of the state either went on strike or were locked out over a 20-week period, from Oct. 11, 2003, until Feb. 29, 2004.