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Grocery workers prepare for strike over healthcare


Workers from Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons grocery chains will gather to prepare and train picket captains this week as the workers’ union gears up for a strike authorization vote on Friday.

The sticking point between the grocery workers and the chains is healthcare.

“The healthcare proposal they have given us essentially increases the premium deductible and out-of-pocket costs, and it strips down a lot of the healthcare plan,” said Mike Shimpock, a spokesman for UFCW, Local 770, in Los Angeles.

The grocers’ proposal includes employee-paid premiums that would cost approximately $1,200 a year. “This would create an unacceptable burden on the workers,” said Shimpock. “There’s also a $2,000 deductible that must be paid up-front,” he continued.

The grocers say they want to provide a solid compensation package, but in a statement Wednesday acknowledged the challenge stating that they want to also “produce an agreement that will enable the companies to compete in Southern California in a difficult economy with aggressive, low-cost competition.”

Ralphs issued a statement Sunday saying, “No one wins in a strike, not our customers, not our employees, not the unions and not the companies. We have several days scheduled at the negotiation table, which is the only place to reach an agreement. We encourage the unions to commit to reaching an agreement that is good for employees and keeps jobs sustainable for our futures.”

The rumored strike is expected to affect more than 62,000 grocery workers across 900 Southern California stores. The last time there was a strike of this magnitude was in 2003, which lasted four months and lost the chains nearly $2 billion in revenue.