Southern California grocery workers will soon return to work after 86% of employees who cast ballots in a two-day vote approved a three-year contract negotiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Their strike began October 11, 2003.
The contract covers 70,000 workers, most of them employed by Kroger Co, which operates RalphÕs stores; Safeway Inc, which operates Vons and Pavilions; and AlbertsonÕs Inc.
Under the contract, employees must pay for health benefits for the first time. Two one-time bonuses for hours already worked are included, but the contract contains no pay raises.
This contract distinguishes between current workers and those hired after October 5, when the old contract expired. New employees would get a lower wage rate, and they would have to wait longer to receive raises.
The contract also assigns new employees to a separate, "basic" health plan. Current employees do not pay premiums during the first two years of the contract, but they may have to pay $5 a week for individual coverage or up to $15 a week to cover their families in the third year of the plan.