Food 4 Less Workers Voting on Strike Authorization Amid Contract Dispute

Food 4 Less Workers Voting on Strike Authorization Amid Contract Dispute

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. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

6/10/2024

Updated: 6/10/2024

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LOS ANGELES—Members of the union representing 6,000 Food 4 Less workers are voting this week on whether to authorize a strike now that their current contract has expired without a tentative agreement on a new one.
The results will be announced after voting ends on Friday, according to a statement by United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442.
The contract expired Saturday.
The union’s demands include higher pay and safety improvements.
“When we started contract negotiations with Food 4 Less/Foods Co., we made it clear that it [was] important to us that we reach a tentative agreement before contract expiration and we came to the table willing to put in the time and work to get that done,” union officials said in a statement Saturday. “But instead of working with us towards a reasonable contract, our employer would rather play games with our livelihoods and offer proposals that grossly underestimate our value and their wealth.
“Everyone deserves a wage that reflects their work and no one deserves to be bullied at their job. By violating our rights, Food 4 Less and Kroger are making it harder to help our customers and keep our stores well-serviced, which is why we’ve been forced to take a strike authorization vote.”
A representative for Food 4 Less did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Food 4 Less, which has 15 stores in the Los Angeles area, is a subsidiary of The Kroger Co., along with Ralphs.
Kroger issued a statement over the weekend saying the company has “remained committed to negotiating in good faith.”
“From the start, our focus has been on reaching an agreement that benefits our hardworking and dedicated associates,” according to the company. “We are deeply disappointed that UFCW Southern California chose to leave the bargaining table before contract expiration, rather than working together to prioritize the needs of their members—our valued associates. It remains our goal to put more money in our associates’ pockets, maintain industry leading healthcare and provide retirement benefits for their futures.
“We will continue to balance our desire to invest in our associates with the need to keep groceries affordable for our customers. Our associates are the most important piece of our business, and we hope to reach an agreement that is beneficial for all parties.”
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.
The union also claimed the company is attempting to strong-arm workers into accepting an offer that is less than what parent company Kroger provides other grocery workers in the area.
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