Just after noon on Monday, grocery union officials and negotiators for Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons reached a tentative deal which will avoid a strike that was poised to move forward. A strike would have affected the two stores in the Eastern Sierra.
The contract under negotiation went on past a Sunday night strike deadline only to be resolved today. Details of the tentative deal were not revealed. Vons corporate public relations did not return our phone calls from last Friday.
According to Reuters News Service, the union that represents many of the 62,000 workers at Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons,including Vons workers in Inyo-Mono, issued a required 72-hour notice of its plan to cancel its extended contract which some sources say could lead to a strike.
Local Vons Manager Rick Graham at the Mammoth Lakes store said that the union issuance does affect Vons workers in the Eastern Sierra. We were referred to as many as four numbers to contact corporate public affairs for a statement from the stores. Our final call went to Brian Dowling, Director of Public Affairs for Vons. We have not heard back.
How serious is this, yet another strike threat? What is known is that the union and the supermarkets reached an impasse over healthcare coverage. According to Reuters News Service, employees have given the union the go-ahead to call a strike if an acceptable deal for a new contract can not be reached.
As many here recall, it was in 2003 that Vons went on strike for four and a half months. Rick Icaza, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 is quoted as saying that “We don’t want to s trike, but if they won’t negotiate, we have no choice.”
Sources say that when the 72-hour notice to cancel the contract ends, it does not mean an immediate walk-out. Sources say it does mean workers will begin final strike preparations.