Southland grocers and the union representing more than 60,000 grocery workers announced today they had reached a tentative labor agreement.
Details of the pact were not released pending ratification by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. The ratification was expected to be completed by the end of the month, according to the union.
The tentative deal was reached after what union officials called a seven-day marathon negotiating session with officials from Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons.
A federal mediator joined in the negotiations May 5.
Officials with the various grocery companies issued identical statements announcing they had "reached a tentative agreement with the seven Southern California UFCW locals for a new collective bargaining agreement. The terms of the new agreement are being withheld pending ratification of the agreement by our employees represented by the UFCW."
As for the union, it said the contracts had been reached "after a final marathon session of seven consecutive days and nights of back-to-back bargaining meetings between representatives of the UFCW locals and the corporations that own Ralph's, Albertsons and Vons, and with the assistance of Federal Mediators
The contract had expired on March 2, but a contract extension was reached on April 10 that secured members' wages and benefits through May 11. Workers were on a day-by-day contract extension since then, with wages and benefits uninterrupted, the union said.
If ratified by the workers, the deal will help avert a repeat of the crippling work stoppage that lasted 141 days in 2003-04. During the lockout, the stores hired temporary workers, and some of the chains were fined for rehiring regular employees under aliases.
The replacement workers all lost their jobs when a new contract was signed, and the lockout cost the stores an estimated $1.5 billion.
--City News Service