Raley's supermarket chain declares impasse in labor talks
Sunday, May. 27, 2012
Raley's union in Valley to call for strike authorization vote
By Dale Kasler
Angered by the company's bargaining position, labor leaders at Raley's say they'll ask members to authorize a strike against the West Sacramento supermarket chain.
Local 8 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, based in Roseville and covering much of the Central Valley, announced Saturday evening it will call for a strike authorization vote. The union will announce the times and locations of the strike vote early this week.
The announcement pushes Raley's and the UFCW a step closer to the first work stoppage in Raley's history, although a strike authorization doesn't guarantee a walkout. Members of UFCW Local 5, based in San Jose, have already authorized a strike against Raley's but are continuing to work under terms of their contract.
Local 8's announcement came one day after Raley's declared an impasse in the negotiations, which have lasted more than eight months. The impasse declaration means Raley's could implement its "best and final" offer after the labor contract expires June 6 – forcing the union to accept the deal or strike.
Raley's said talks had completely stalled. The declaration of an impasse came after a third negotiating session with a federal mediator.
The union said it was "baffled" by Raley's impasse declaration, saying further negotiations were already set. It took Raley's decision as a threat.
"It is an indication of their intent to force takeaways to your benefits and wages, without even allowing you to vote on your own contract," the union said in a message to its members. "Once again, they are taking an erratic and reckless position, and unfortunately, this leaves us with no choice but to move forward with a strike vote."
Raley's spokesman John Segale called the union's announcement "a big mistake."
"They only seem intent on destroying our company," he said. "They refuse to negotiate in good faith. They ignore the realities of today's economy."
Raley's and the other two unionized Northern California supermarket chains, Safeway and Save Mart, are seeking concessions on health care and other issues. They say they need the givebacks to help them compete against nonunion grocers like Wal-Mart, which have gained considerable market share in recent years. Of the three companies, Raley's has been the most insistent on bringing the talks to a conclusion.
For now, Raley's employees will continue working under terms of the old contract, at least through June 6.