SAN JOSE, Calif. — Labor talks in Northern California are continuing to drag on, with most discussions centering on health and welfare benefits, a union spokesman told SN Wednesday.
"That's the big bear in the room," Mike Henneberry, representing United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, said.
Local 5, along with UFCW Local 8, based in Sacramento, is continuing to negotiate separately with Raley's, Safeway and Save Mart Supermarkets, whose contracts expired last October. Save Mart's contract extension expired Tuesday, and the chain has declined to extend it further, Henneberry said.
"However, we're not at any sort of impasse, and they aren't rattling swords, so the lack of an extension doesn't change anything." He said he expects further negotiating sessions to be scheduled shortly.
A Save Mart spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Raley's has extended its contract through June 6, and negotiators for the chain and the union were scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday under the aegis of a federal mediator. Safeway has agreed to extend its contract on a day-to-day basis, with a seven-day cancellation notice.
Save Mart's labor contract has expired, bringing the Modesto grocery chain closer to a strike.
The United Food and Commercial Workers said today the company refused to extend the contract following a marathon bargaining session that ended at midnight.
While no further meetings have been scheduled, employees will continue to work under terms of the old contract.
Save Mart and the other two Northern California unionized chains, Raley's and Safeway, have been pushing for concessions to help them compete with nonunion rivals. Negotiations are in their eighth month.
During Tuesday's negotiations, Save Mart "produced a comprehensive document including many proposed cuts previously rejected by the UFCW bargaining team as unacceptable," said Jacques Loveall, president of the union's Local 8 in Roseville, in a prepared statement. "The current position Save Mart has taken, unfortunately, brings us much closer to a strike."
There was no immediate comment from Save Mart.
The Roseville local has said it will ask its members to authorize a strike against Raley's. The Bay Area bargaining unit, Local 5, has already authorized a strike against Raley's.