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Nob Hill Foods, Raley's Contract Talks End in Acrimony, Strike

The grocery store chain has dozens of stores on the Central Coast and in the Bay Area.

An estimated 7,000 grocery workers at Raley's and Nob Hill Foods grocery stores in Northern and Central California walked out on strike Sunday after 15 months of contract negotiations ended in acrimony.

The strike follows the implementation Sunday by Raley's of its "last, best and final" contract proposals, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers 8-Golden State and Local 5. The union accused Raley's of bargaining "in bad faith."

The union also filed unfair labor practices complaints on Thursday, including allegations that Raley's managers have been interrogating and intimidating union members, union officials said.

"We look forward to returning to the bargaining table when Raley's management has adopted a more constructive attitude," a statement from UCFW Presidents Jacques Loveall and Ron Lind said Sunday. "Our goal from the beginning is to negotiate a fair agreement serving the needs of both Raley's and its union employees."

Raley's officials rejected the allegations.

"We're very frustrated that it's come to this, this has been going on for 15 months," said spokesperson John Segale. "We submitted our last and final offer four weeks ago and we never heard from the union, they never let their employees vote on that."

"So we had no choice but to implement our wage package this morning," Segale said.

Segale said Raley's urgently needs to cut costs in a "fiercely competitive" market. He said the Sacramento-based chain, which includes Raley's, Nob Hill Foods and Bel Air stores, has closed five stores in the past year and seen the opening or expansion of 240 non-union stores in its markets since 2008.

The conditions imposed today apply only to wages, Segale said. The store moved to freeze pay increases for two years and eliminate the premiums paid for employees working Sundays, night and holidays, but retained the one week of paid vacation and four paid holidays employees currently receive, he said.

Workers will be picketing stores and asking shoppers to take their business to competing grocery stores, union officials said Sunday.

Raley's and Nob Hill Foods have more than two dozen stores located in the Bay Area and more in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

—Bay City News

Jennifer Squires November 06, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Update from today: http://watsonville.patch.com/articles/photos-nob-hill-foods-strike#photo-12057344
Ed Pendleton November 06, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Having been a union official for many years a long time ago I can tell you the unions are corrupt. If the employees do not like working for these stores they should quit and find work somewhere else. In a tough economy stores have to survive or all the jobs they offer will be gone.
HizDesign November 09, 2012 at 06:47 PM
They MAYBE could find work elsewhere, but should they really have to do that? The NHF employees and the wonderful customer service are the ONLY 2 REASONS I shop there.......they definitely earn their wages as well as any benefits they have, and should continue to have. I also will not be crossing ANY picket lines.....*sigh* but probably go to Target or something....
Cathy P. November 09, 2012 at 07:15 PM
@Ed Pendleton: and where do you suggest these employees go to find work? Why is it always put up or shut up? Regarding corruption in unions: Unions have a history of making the workplace safer and more productive for all workers, not just union workers. The benefits and safe conditions YOU worked under were fought for by Union Labor. I won’t deny that unions are sometimes their own worst enemies, but don’t let the good they have done be diminished by a rotten few.
Cathy P. November 09, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Anyone interested can go here and Pledge Your Support and get strike updates http://supportgroceryworkers.com/take-action

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