It's been a long battle for better pay, benefits and safety among SoCal grocery store workers.
Some grocery store workers will vote this week on proposed agreement, after alleging ‘unfair labor practice’ violations.
Last week, a tentative agreement was reached in negotiations between the union representing SoCal grocery workers and stores including Stater Brothers, Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. It also avoided a potential strike.
According to the union, the tentative agreement includes significant wage increases, guaranteed hours for part time workers, stronger health benefits, improved store safety and a secured pension.
“I think they deserve it. Honestly I think they deserve a little more. It won’t be wrong to pay them more, pay us a little more,” said Ralph's employee Anthony Soto.
However, the union says it’s not final until workers vote on whether or not to accept it.
“I want people to understand, you should be valued for the work that you do, and should also be compensated for the work that you do. and the retail grocery industry, in my belief, after these contracts should they be ratified, is a game changer for several thousands of people and their families,” said UCFW 1167 President Joe Duffle.
On Saturday, Stater Brothers workers voted to accept the agreement which will go into effect immediately.
“It's one of the best contracts that we've ever been able to negotiate. I think a lot of it has to do with perhaps the pandemic and some of the things that our members had to go through during that time. Of course, some of it with, you know, inflation, you have to take those things into consideration,” Duffle added.
Any and all hours worked between March 7th, which was the end date of the previous contract, will be retroactive with those pay increases.
“They’re very substantial increases where someone through the brackets could receive anywhere from 25 to 65 cents. But the journeyman can receive anywhere from $4.50 to in some cases, believe it or not $9.25 an hour. Overnight. Certainly life changing,” said Duffle.
Those who work for Albertsons, Vons, Pavillions and Ralphs will vote on whether to accept the agreement this Wednesday and Thursday.
“I’d like to get paid and more and more benefits," Soto said, "It would help everybody in Ralphs, it’d help everybody out.”
The union couldn’t go in-depth about what the proposal entails, but says the new contract would be very beneficial.
“Similar to Stater Brothers, there's some significant changes. Also, we were able to secure our health care, as well as our pension. So I'm really excited to be able to share the proposal with our members,” said Duffle.
The union says it’s a contract agreement says has been a long time coming.
“\Anyone out there that's working in a retail grocery store, really give it a good look. Because the agreements that we've been able to negotiate, really changed the game," Duffle said, "So it does pay to be union. Sometimes it's a little painful. And sometimes it's a fight. But it's definitely a fight worth having.”