UFCW Raley's Workers on Strike
Thousands of Union grocery workers walked off their jobs at Raley's supermarkets this morning, citing management's unlawful implementation of takeaways and unfair labor practices.
Following days of intense negotiations in the presence of Federal Mediator Greg Lim, leaders of UFCW 8-Golden State and UFCW Local 5 announced a strike was in effect at Raley's, Nob Hill and, in all likelihood, Bel Air stores in Northern and Central California. The labor dispute involves approximately 7,000 union members.
The workers will set up picket lines in front of stores and will soon be asking shoppers to take their business to Safeway, Save Mart, Rite Aid and other Union retailers.
In communications with members, the Unions noted Raley's management had been bargaining in bad faith since contract negotiations began 15 months ago.
Union attorneys filed charges of “unfair labor practices” against the company on Nov. 1, citing violations of laws prohibiting harassment and intimidation of Union members, circumventing the Union's authority as a bargaining agent, and “regressive bargaining” — submitting proposals that are worse than previous offers. The Unions also charged that Raley's was unlawfully threatening to implement changes to the parties' collective bargaining agreements.
After the Union leaders said they intended to file additional charges in response to systematic one-on-one interrogations of Union members by Raley's managers, Raley's officials said they would comply with Union demands to stop the interrogations but the interrogations continued anyway.
The strike coincides with Raley's imposition of many of its “last, best and final” contract proposals without the input or approval of its Union employees. Among other things, the proposals include permanent elimination of some wage premiums for working at night and on Sundays and holidays, and establishment of two distinct classes of workers — those hired after the next contract is ratified and those hired before.
Other terms proposed by the company include elimination of retiree health care and inadequate funding of health care for active workers.
The strike has received endorsement by the UFCW International Union and all of the regional labor councils in Northern and Central California. In addition, the Raley's Union Solidarity Alliance, initially formed by UFCW 8-Golden State and UFCW Local 5, was recently expanded to include UFCW Local 711 in Nevada; Northern California Teamsters; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 85; and IUOE Stationary Engineers Local 39.
UFCW Presidents Jacques Loveall and Ron Lind said progress in the negotiations was stymied by Raley's management team under the direction of an outsider with a history of animosity toward Unions.
“This individual's lack of good faith, his inconsistencies and his erratic approach have derailed the entire process,” they continued.
“By allowing this outsider, whose priority is ‘union avoidance,' to direct its bargaining efforts, Raley's has forced us to take this course,” they said.
“We look forward to returning to the bargaining table when Raley's management has adopted a more constructive attitude,” they added. “Our goal from the beginning is to negotiate a fair agreement serving the needs of both Raley's and its Union employees.”