As hundreds of grocery workers and their supporters rallied to push for a new contract, the three major grocery chains released details of their latest healthcare proposal that they claim would hold the line on costs but require employees to pay $9 a week for single coverage.

The cost of family coverage under the proposal would be $23, according to officials for Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons.

The latest healthcare proposal was presented to the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 on Tuesday. The union’s membership voted in April to authorize a strike, but the workers were expected to hold another strike authorization vote as early as next week in response to updated contract proposals.

The grocery employees’ previous contract expired March 6, but they have continued to work under the terms of the previous pact. The union and grocery companies have reached an agreement on pension issues, but wages and healthcare costs still need to be resolved.

Union officials said previous proposals from the grocers would have resulted in a 50 percent pay cut for workers, since their healthcare costs would skyrocket. They claim the increased costs for workers would come as the grocery chains pull down billions of dollars in profits.

Union workers rallied outside of three Ralphs locations yesterday.

According to the grocery chains, the latest healthcare proposal includes an increase in company contributions to the healthcare fund. It would also maintain the current prescription drug co-payments and the annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximums in the PPO plan.
The companies also proposed to continue offering an HMO option.