UFCW Workers Plan Strike Despite Raley's Offer of Mediation Services
Employees of Raley's grocery stores in northern California are moving forward on a strike authorization vote, despite the grocer's attempt to resume mediation services. According to a somewhat vitriolic message on one of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) websites, the vote to strike is “in response to your employer's erratic bargaining position.”
Civil Mediation Suspended Until Current Contracts Extended
Originally, Raley's had cut off negotiations and refused to extend the previous contract, and even threatened the UFCW workers with an ultimatum--”best and final” contract. This move could have provoked the movement toward voting for a strike.
Since then, Raley's has backed off of that position and put an offer of mediation back on the table. The union, however, has not accepted the offer. They believe that if the offer of mediation was made in good faith, Raley's would sign the contract extension.
Raley's, on the other hand, claims that they have already made 5 contract extensions to the workers, and now is the time to reach an agreement on new contracts. It should be noted that a contract extension is a symbolic gesture at this point, since the workers are still being paid “as if” they were under the previous contract.
Northern California Grocers Need Employment Mediation
Raley's is not the only grocery chain facing labor disputes in Northern California with the UFCW. Safeway and Save Mart both are struggling with the union to reach concessions on pay, health care and other labor issues. All companies claim that they are having trouble competing with nonunion grocery chains. The UFCW claims that it is willing to help make this happen, but the demands of the new contract are too severe.
While civil mediation is at a deadlock currently, it is much needed to resolve these labor issues.