Cal Workers Strike, Chains Bring in Replacements

Oct 13, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Kroger, Safeway and Albertsons were not able to come to an agreement with the union representing 70,000 store employees and the picketing has begun at the 850 supermarkets involved.

The chains, in turn, have been hiring replacements to keep stores up and running.

“We expect as each day passes that business will return to normal,” said Ralphs spokesman Terry O’Neil told the Associated Press.

The difference between the two sides is largely over health benefits.

The chains want employees, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), to pay $5 a week for individuals and up to $15 for families to offset the cost of providing

The union wants to continue the status quo on health benefits with the employers paying the premiums.

Moderator’s Comment: How do the chains and the UFCW find a way out of a strike situation that can only hurt both parties?

We recently spoke with a UFCW representative, requesting anonymity, who said that ultimately the situation in California and elsewhere came down to the
chains having two choices. They could try and bust up the union or work with it to fight off Wal-mart.

The representative reasoned that the union wasn’t going away so option number one didn’t make sense.

That left number two and the answer there was to organize Wal-Mart. How would the UFCW be able to do that if it couldn’t show potential members that the
union was their best chance of getting pay and benefits enjoyed by others in retailing?
Anderson – Moderator

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