Thousands of SoCal grocery store workers hope to avoid strike as contract with supermarkets expires

Leo Stallworth Image
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
SoCal grocery store workers hope to avoid strike as contracts expire
Thousands of grocery workers in SoCal are working without a contract after their most recent one expired at midnight, raising fears of a possible strike as negotiations continue.

Thousands of grocery workers in Southern California are working without a contract after their most recent one expired at midnight.

There are fears of a possible strike looming as negotiations continue.

As a grocery store employee, Maximus earns minimum wage shagging grocery store carts and more.

""Yeah that's not nothing," said Maximus. "I'm a courtesy clerk and I and kind of do everything like right now for the hours."

He agrees with the grocery store union, which is demanding higher wages, better benefits, and more staffing from Ralph's grocery chain.

Grocery store workers rallied outside of a Ralphs store in Tustin on Feb. 28 demanding Ralphs corporate officials give in to their demands.

RELATED | SoCal grocery store workers rally in Tustin as contracts are set to expire March 6

Hundreds of unionized grocery store employees rallied outside a Ralphs in Tustin Monday as bargaining continued on their contract set to expire March 6.

Ralphs and Southern California UFCW locals ended negotiations without reaching an agreement before the existing contract expired Monday at midnight.

Grocery store shoppers like Peggy Vachon say given the service grocery store workers provided during the worst of the pandemic they deserve better wages and more.

"They touch our food and they have to be treated as employees like they were healthcare workers," Vachon said. "So I agree that they need more money."

"They deserve more money more benefits we all do so you know essential workers," said grocery store shopper Mel. "Everybody needed them when it was time right during the hard times."

The grocery store union says given the tremendous support from customers who know what grocery store workers have been through corporate officials for the grocery store have to do right by the employees to avoid a possible strike.

Ralphs officials say the average wage for its nearly 30,000 employees in California is $19 an hour, and when adding in the cost of health care and pension, the total compensation per employee is $25 an hour.

On Monday, Ralphs issued a statement that said:

"It's unfortunate that substantial progress toward reaching an agreement was not made during our 12 total days of bargaining with the union. While the company made several wage proposals, the union continues to propose very costly items, which impacts our ability to meet customer needs and remain competitive."