On April 16, labor leaders representing 300 unions and 800,000 workers and their families, affiliated with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO (LA Fed) unanimously approved the UFCW’s request for strike sanction and threw support for potential economic actions against Food 4 Less, said the UFCW Local 770.
According to a press release, the actions could affect stores in Central California down to the border with Mexico, putting as many as 7,000 grocery workers on the picket lines. On March 19, members of seven United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) locals in California voted to authorize economic actions, including a strike if necessary. The UFCW locals in the bargaining unit are Locals 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428, 1442, and 8-GS. The contract with Food 4 Less expired on March 7.
“Today’s strike sanction vote exemplifies our unquestionable solidarity with the grocery workers of Food 4 Less. Our over 300 affiliates, representing more than 800,000 workers and their families in L.A. County, will stand together with the grocery workers when they need us most. When called upon, we will honor the boycott and not shop at Food 4 Less,” said Ron Herrera, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “If Food 4 Less workers are forced to go on strike, our members and their families will not cross the picket line.”
Ron Herrera stated that the Food 4 Less brand would be added to the “Do Not Patronize” list if the dispute is not settled.
The extended contract with Food 4 Less expired in early March, and since then, employees have been working without a negotiated agreement.
“Food 4 Less can afford to treat us fairly, but until now, they’re refusing to do so. The Company is treating us workers and the communities we serve as second-class citizens, and we need to change that. Food 4 Less and Ralphs are both Kroger-owned companies, yet the Ralphs workers receive higher wages and better benefits for doing the same work. The workers are calling for equal pay for equal work,” said Susan Hernandez, an employee at a Food 4 Less supermarket in North Hollywood.
UFCW 770 President John Grant said that the union is ready to escalate the fight until grocery employees get a fair union contract.
These contract negotiations are taking place as UFCW unions fight against Kroger’s store closures over local hazard pay ordinances.