Following victories by other food industry unions, 50,000 California grocers authorize strike

In a move aligned with recent efforts by Starbucks and King Soopers employees to demand better working conditions, about 47,000 California grocery store workers voted to have their union authorize a strike if ongoing negotiations for a better contract fail.

This week talks between union leaders and representatives of the Kroger family of companies – which owns chains such as Ralphs, King Soopers, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions – will continue after months of deliberation, and pressure to keep business as usual is ongoing.

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These contract negotiations cover various employee demands, such as better pay in the face of historical inflation, increased staffing levels, better planning and improved security in stores.

As CBS News reported“The union said…the companies’ wage proposal amounted to a 60 cent raise that was ‘surprisingly low’ and well below workers’ cost of living needs. Employees were asking for a $5 wage raise. hour, among other other proposals.”

Negotiations began in January and have since continued without result. The previous contract expired earlier this month, on March 6, without a deal.

The thousands of workers represented today are employed at stores like Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavillions, located in the central and southern regions of the Golden State. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has several locals represented among employees, which could mean a huge labor shortage for the different roles in each store. The walkout could include pharmacists and grocery clerks, as well as deli and bakery workers, and any other specialized roles that customers depend on.

This is not the first time that these workers have had to threaten to suspend their work. In 2019, workers at these four grocery stores voted to allow a strike, but a deal was reached before it was needed.

As Home and kitchen tool reported in February, employees at King Soopers, which is also owned by Kroger, also opted to strike for higher wages and employee safety measures.

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