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Ralphs would close, Vons would stay open and Albertsons isn't clear on status of SCV stores in event of strike.
| Monday, Sep 19, 2011

Talks continued into the late morning Monday as the Southland grocery union’s Sunday-night strike deadline came and went.

“Grocery workers will remain at the bargaining table as long as we feel progress is being made towards a fair, equitable agreement,” UFCW Local 770 told its members in a 10:45 a.m. statement Monday. “Our hope is to reach a conclusion to these talks that allows our members to preserve their jobs, keep our employers profitable, and show our appreciation to our customers for their continued support.

“We will not hesitate to stand up for ourselves if talks stall again,” the statement said.

It instructed workers not to walk off the job “until you have received official notice from your union representative.”

Local 770 is one of six Southern California locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers that notified the management of Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons on Thursday night of their intent to cancel a contract extension in 72 hours unless agreement is reached on health insurance coverage. They’ve been without a contract since March.

Meanwhile, Albertsons provided a printable job application on its Albertsons.com website, saying it was looking for “temporary replacement associates due to a potential labor dispute at our stores.”

The application must be filled out on paper and handed directly to a store manager, it said.

Supervalu, which owns Albertsons, has said it would close up to 100 of its 224 Southern California stores if its union workers strike.

The company’s website directs job applicants to 212 different stores, including all four Albertsons locations in the Santa Clarita Valley, so it is unclear whether  its SCV stores would be among the 100 that could close in the event of a strike.

Kroger said it would close all 250 of its Southland Ralphs stores if the union calls a strike. Safeway said it would be business as usual at its Vons stores, to the extent possible.

The six locals represent 62,000 workers. Of those, about 54,000 work at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. The other 8,000 work at supermarkets that are negotiating separate agreements.

UFCW Local 770 recommends its Stater Bros. store on Sierra Highway as an “alternative place to shop” if the strike is called.

But it’s the UFCW’s non-union competitors such as Trader Joe’s, Costco and Whole Foods that stand to be the biggest winners in the event of a strike. Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons held a combined 60 percent market share during the 141-day strike and lockout of 2003-2004; today the chains operate fewer store locations and control less than 25 of the market.

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