More than 4,000 Teamster warehouse workers and truck drivers that deliver food and supplies to Southern California grocery stores are facing the possibility of a work shutdown. Grocery supply chain workers and their employers – Albertsons (includes Vons and Pavilions) and Kroger (includes Ralphs and Food4Less) – have been in contract negotiations since early August. The workers’ contract expired on Sept. 20 and both parties agreed to an extension.
However, with no meaningful progress on the key issue of health care, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, Teamster negotiators say they had no choice but to give a 72-hour notice to cancel the contract extension and prepare to strike. The risk that grocery store shelves could be empty for the holidays and even for the typical grocery shopping trip is looking imminent due to the grocers’ effort to take away affordable health care from workers’ families, Teamsters Joint Council 42 says.
Health care and food safety are the highest priority for these warehouse workers and truck drivers. The possibility of a labor dispute would undoubtedly impact the food supply chain in Southern California and is becoming a possibility.
A socially distanced rally and press availability is set for noon-2 p.m. today, Oct. 8, (press availability at 1 p.m.) at Albertsons, 8880 Valley View St., Buena Park, California.
Scheduled to attend are Southern California Teamster warehouse workers and truck drivers; labor leaders; elected officials including Buena Park Councilmember Art Brown; Garden Grove Councilmember Sergio Contreras, a candidate for Orange County Board of Supervisors; Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee Claudia Alvarez, a candidate for mayor, City of Santa Ana; Susan Sonne, a candidate for Buena Park City Council; Josh Newman, a candidate for CA Senator District 29; and Avelino Valencia, a candidate for Anaheim City Council.
Citing what it says are record profits and huge executive compensation, Teamsters Joint Council 42 says these grocery chains are demanding that Teamster families bear the brunt of the increased cost of health care. The workers are requesting that the grocers simply continue to provide affordable family health care.
Since the pandemic began, warehouse workers and truck drivers employed by these major grocery chains have worked tirelessly to keep the food supply chain moving because they knew customers and their families were depending on food and supplies to be on the grocery shelves. When PPE was scarce, workers even provided their own and at the Compton, California, warehouse more than 100 workers tested positive for COVID-19 due to company negligence; nevertheless, food and supplies still made it to the shelves, Teamsters Joint Council 42 says.
These Teamster essential workers are fighting for a fair contract that provides workers with affordable family health care and improved health and safety measures to protect workers from COVID-19 at work, Teamsters Joint Council 42 says.