Food 4 Less Workers Authorize Strike; Talks to Resume Monday

Food 4 Less Workers Authorize Strike; Talks to Resume Monday

A Food 4 Less employee pushes carts past supermarket workers gathered to protest in front of the supermarket in Long Beach, Calif. on Feb. 3, 2021, after a decision by owner Kroger to close two supermarkets rather than pay workers an additional $4 in "hazard pay" for their continued work during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service
City News Service

6/16/2024

Updated: 6/16/2024

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LOS ANGELES—Negotiations are set to resume June 17 between Food 4 Less and the union representing its approximately 6,000 workers, three days after employees finished voting overwhelming to authorize a strike.
“Today’s overwhelming strike authorization vote sends a clear message to the company: we will not be divided,” the union’s bargaining committee said in a statement released Friday.
“It’s us and our fellow members that are in the stores day in and day out, making record profits and keeping customers happy. But Food 4 Less is trying to intimidate, bully, and strong-arm us into accepting a contract that is less than what we deserve and far less than what their parent company, Kroger, offers to other union grocery workers in the area,” the statement continued.
“We know our customers and our communities are on our side, and if Food 4 Less/Foods Co. continues to play games with our livelihoods and drag its feet at the bargaining table, we will be forced to take action. We look forward to continuing negotiations this Monday where we will continue to stand together for the contract we deserve.”
Salvador Ramirez, a spokesman for The Kroger Co., the parent company of Food 4 Less, said in a statement: “We are disappointed in this outcome and looking forward to the union coming back to the table on Monday. From the start, our focus has been putting more money in our associates’ paychecks.
“We have presented a historic offer that includes over $70 million in wage investments, industry-leading health care, and retirement benefits,” Mr. Ramirez continued. “Our associates are the heartbeat of our company, and we will continue to do everything we can to balance investments in wages and overall associate well-being while keeping food affordable for our customers. Our stores will continue to be open for business to serve our communities.”
Last Monday, the company announced it has presented the union with an offer that includes increasing salaries to $25.80 per hour by 2026 for a full-time cashier with four years of full-time experience, for an annual salary of more than $50,000. The proposal also would not increase employee health insurance costs over the three-year contract.
“At Food 4 Less/Foods Co., our hardworking and dedicated associates are the heartbeat of our company, and our goal is to continue to provide market-competitive wages and benefits that we know are so important to our associates and their families,” Bryan Kaltenbach, president of Food 4 Less/Foods Co., said in a statement.
“We will continue to do everything we can to balance investments in wages and overall well-being while keeping food affordable for our customers.”
The demands by United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442 include higher pay and safety improvements. Their contract expired June 8.
The strike vote count was not released.
A strike authorization vote does not necessarily mean there will be a strike.
On May 22, the union locals filed unfair labor practice charges against Food 4 Less/Foods Co., alleging the company undermined negotiations and workers’ rights to representation. Union officials said the company has engaged in unlawful surveillance of workers, prohibited them from participating in union activity, blocked them from talking to union representatives and unilaterally changed the contract.
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