Reinforced grocery strikers widen battlefield
Nov 25, 2003 12:00 PM, from staff and wire reportsThe Southern California supermarket strike against Vons, Ralph's, and Albertson's stores has gained new momentum and support with the extension of picket lines from coast to coast. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union plans to expand its fight to retain health care benefits to the warehouse and distribution facilities of all three supermarket chains.
Teamsters union members will halt delivery of groceries to the three chains where about 70,000 grocery clerks have been striking or locked out since October 11. The Teamsters said its members will not cross picket lines at stores, which means management and non-striking employees have to unload trucks. Almost 860 stores are affected by the strike.
Jim Santangelo, president of Teamsters Joint Council 42 in El Monte CA, called his union's action a "silver bullet."
"If this doesn't end it, nothing will," he said.
A federal mediator brought both sides together two weeks ago for the first time since the dispute began, but no indications of a compromise have emerged.
Expansion of picket lines to distribution centers came two days into recently renewed bargaining sessions organized by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. No new talks are scheduled.