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Why Are California Grocery Workers Threatening to Strike?

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There hasn’t been a supermarket strike in California since 2003.

Grocery store workers in parts of California voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike over a union contract this week. Labor leaders with the United Food and Commercial Workers want higher pay and better health care for the thousands of unionized employees who work at Ralphs (whose parent company is Kroger) and Albertsons, which owns Vons and Pavilions—stores that make up about one-fifth of the food retailers in the state.

Seven local UFCW unions voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. That doesn’t mean they will strike, but it could happen if negotiation stalls.

At UFCW Local 770, representing grocery workers in Santa Barbara County, 96 percent of members voted to reject the stores’ current contract. “I’m energized to walk into the next round of negotiations armed with the power to take economic action, if necessary, to win this contract—including calling a strike,” the local union’s president, John Grant, said in a statement on Wednesday. 

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