Vons employee union members authorize strike

In bad economic times, few want to face a strike at Vons grocery stores, but the employees union now has authorization to go out on strike as the company and workers negotiate.

Vons Manager Rick Graham in Mammoth Lakes confirmed earlier today that the Local 8 did take a strike vote. He said if workers did decide to go on strike, it would impact the Vons stores in Mammoth and Bishop, along with all of Southern California and Las Vegas.

According to the Orange County Register, the grocery store workers said that its more than 62,000 members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against three major supermarket chains. The report did say that no immediate walkout is planned. Any strike would require the union to give the employers 72 hours notice.

Grocery representatives called the strike authorization a “common tactic in negotiations which does not necessarily mean a strike will be called.” The two sides will return to negotiations next week. The old contract expired in March but continues on a day to day basis.

It was in 2003 and 2004 that Vons workers did go on strike for 141 days. Reports say that the stores and workers have never fully recovered lost business and income from that time. Some sources speculate that bad economic times will make a strike less likely. With California’s unemployment rate at 12%, store officials feel they will easily find workers to cross the picket line, if there is one.

Neither side has discussed the specifics under discussion. Last go around in 2003, employees held out for health insurance and other concessions.

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