United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 has announced a tentative contract agreement between the union and the corporations that own Ralphs, VONS, and Albertsons.
Ralphs Spokeswoman Kendra Doyel said the agreement was win-win.
“I think that not on strike is a huge win for everyone including our customers and employees of the companies, and the unions. We all wanted to avoid that. So, I’m thrilled that we’ve reached a deal that can move us out of this and get us back to doing what we do best at Ralphs and that’s taking care of customers.
On Thursday the United Food and Commercial Workers Union 770 issued a 72-hour notice canceling the grocery contract extension and paving the way for a strike.
Doyel said union officials and the grocery companies never left the bargaining table over the weekend and into this morning when the agreement was announced.
“There were a lot of sleepless folks working pretty hard to get this deal done over the last few days,” said Doyel.
The major sticking point in the eight month negotiations was health care contributions.
Doyel said last week that Ralphs is asking its employees to pay $9 a week for single coverage, and $23 a week for full family coverage.
“Some people right now don’t pay anything for their health care. So they would go from zero to $9. Some of our employees pay $7 a week for individual coverages. So they would increase by two dollars,” Doyel said.
When asked if either side had moved off those proposed figures she said she could go into specifics.
“We really want to make sure that we get this out to our employees first and give them time to work through everything. So couldn’t I go into specific numbers,” said Doyel.
Officials say the agreement must still be approved by union members before it can go into effect.
“We have reached a tentative agreement at the bargaining table, and will present it to our members for approval later this week,” said Rick Icaza, president of the grocery workers union Local 770.
“We would like to thank the federal mediator, Scot Beckenbaugh, as well as all our customers for their patience and support through this difficult process,” Icaza said.
Doyel described the emotions on both sides:
“Absolutely, just relief. I think everyone is very glad that we’re not going out on strike. And that we can go back to taking care of customers again. It’s been a stressful period for a lot of different people. And I think there’s a lot of relief,” said Doyel.
Next up for Doyel is the Food 4 Less contract which will be addressed in the next few weeks. The Kroger Company owns both grocery chains.
“I wouldn’t see it dragging out or being as long and drawn out, because there are similar aspects that just roll over into that contract,” Doyel said.
Now that is a relief.