UPDATE: Grocery worker's strike
No breakthroughs were reported as round-the-clock negotiations passed a 7:10 p.m. strike deadline
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - No breakthroughs were reported as round-the-clock
negotiations passed a 7:10 p.m. strike deadline set by the union representing
62,000 grocery store clerks in Southern California.
Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons officials continued to meet with the
workers' representatives at an undisclosed location, while union stewards spent
the day passing out picket signs.
No grocery chain official would comment, but a union spokesman said no
progress had been made today.
Clerks at a pair of Ralphs and Vons supermarkets in Santa Monica today
said both chains had not reduced their deliveries of fresh baked goods,
produce, milk and meat to the stores. The clerks, who did not want their names
publicized, said the fresh deliveries of perishables may indicate that
management at the Kroger's and Safeway chains, which own the grocery brands,
are not anticipating closing their stores.
``We've heard that, and I think that does mean something,'' said union
spokesman Mike Shimpock. ``And if they start to move in the negotiations, we
intend to stay at the table'' and not call a strike, he said.
Union locals from Santa Maria to the Mexican border served notice at
7:10 p.m. Thursday that workers would walk off their jobs in exactly 72 hours --
tonight at 7:10 -- if they do not see movement from the national chains.
Health insurance benefits are a major point of contention, with the
company offering an insurance package that union officials say would run out of
money in 16 months. Under the most recent offer, workers would pay about $36
per month for individual health insurance, or $92 per month for family
coverage, but the company contribution to that share has not been disclosed.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged grocery workers and supermarkets to
negotiate agreement to avoid a strike.
``As Mayor, I've had to make hard decisions during these tough economic
times to close a $1.5 billion deficit,'' Villaraigosa said in a statement. ``We
have laid off a record 4,600 employees. This year, fortunately, we were able to
avoid layoffs and furloughs by negotiating a new agreement with out unions.
Through their partnership and leadership, employees agreed to pay more for
health care to stay on the job. And we agreed to find other ways to save money
Negotiators are also reportedly far apart on pay rates.
``They're sitting on their piles of cash, and they're throwing us
quarters,'' Shimpock told City News Service today. The union claims the three
chains made $3 billion in profits last year, and distributed $500 million to
Villaraigosa encouraged both sides to ``find a way to keep LA working.''
``At a time of persistently high unemployment, poverty and foreclosures
the last thing we need is a devastating strike that will make it more difficult
for thousands of workers to put food on the table for their families, pay their
mortgages and afford other basic necessities,'' Villaraigosa said. ``The ripple
effect will further damage our local economy and create additional hardships
for LA residents who depend on these stores to feed their families.''
All three chains continued to solicit replacement workers today. Ralphs
has said it would close its stores if a strike is closed, but Vons has not made
it clear if it would try to keep stores open with replacement workers and
A spokeswoman from Albertsons today clarified an earlier statement that
the Minnesota-based chain might close up to 100 stores in the event of a
strike. Christie Ly told CNS that the amount of stores closed would depend on
how Albertsons management can manage to ''spread our resources to maintain a
high level of customer service.
``We intend for most of our stores to be open,'' Ly said.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told a KNX reporter today that he
is ``absolutely against'' a strike, but also said ``I certainly understand
the needs of the workers.''
Unions scheduled a 7:30 p.m. candlelight vigil tonight outside a Vons
Pavilion's store in Beverly Hills. ``We will gather and try to show the market
corporations their moral obligation to bring this conflict to a fair
resolution,'' said Rick Icaza, president of United Food and Commercial Workers
During a 141-day lockout in 2003-04, the stores hired temporary
workers, and some of the chains were fined for rehiring regular employees under
aliases. The replacement workers all lost their jobs when a new contract was
signed, and the lockout cost the stores an estimated $1.5 billion.
Los Angeles police say two suspects have been arrested for the murder of 5-year-old Aaron Shannon, and are being held without bail. Leonard Hall Jr., 21, was taken into custody today (Friday) about at 2:10 a.m. at an apartment in the 200 block of West. 27th Str. Marcus Denson, 18, was arrested Thursday evening by Sheriff’s deputies in the 1100 block of East 83rd Street. Law enforcement officials say both suspects are active gang members.
Despite a groundswell of national protest and exposure by activists of color, missing African American and Latino children are still viewed as a low priority by the mainstream media. Missing African American children in particular seldom achieve national or even local recognition, often eliciting apathy from local law enforcement. The recent disappearance of 16-year-old Myra Howard is a tragic continuation of this pattern.
A forum hosted by students of Crenshaw High School will be held Tuesday, May 28, from 4-6 p.m. at the Brotherhood Crusade Youth Source Center, and will feature student input on the transformation taking place at the high school.
The forum is sponsored by Taking Action, Sierra Club and the Coalition for Educational Justice, all campus clubs, and will follow a march that takes place beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the flag poles on campus and ending at the Youth Source Center, 5415 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.
The 21st Black Business Expo (BBX) will open its doors Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., in “The Hangar” at the West Angeles Cathedral (a few steps from the Metro Train station) and will honor community legends who have made significant contributions to Los Angeles during its South Los Angeles (SoLA) awards.
The theme of the event is “Empowering Our South Los Angeles Community.”
The Hangar is located at the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards. Admission and parking are free.