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Shoppers at Two Malibu Grocery Stores Might Soon Be Greeted by Picket Lines

The employees at Ralphs in Malibu Colony Plaza and Pavilions in Point Dume Village could begin striking Sunday night.

4 p.m. UPDATE: A Ralphs spokeswoman said the chain would close all its Southern California stores if grocery workers go on strike, according to an article on The San Diego Union-Tribune's website.

"If there is a strike, Ralphs will initially close all of our stores," said Ralphs spokeswoman Kendra Doyel, according to the article. "During a strike, it is difficult to create a good shopping experience for our customers and a good working environment for our employees."

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Malibu residents who want to do local grocery shopping could soon be faced with a choice—cross picket lines at in Malibu Colony Plaza and in or shop at .

After months of negotiations, the grocery workers union on Thursday night moved a step closer to calling a strike and gave a three-day notice to cancel its contract, according to a statement from labor leaders.

Canceling the contract removes the final barrier to a strike. If a deal can't be reached by Sunday at 7 p.m., a strike could be called at any time.

The United Food and Commercial Workers represents 62,000 grocery store employees, including those who work at Ralphs and Pavilions. Management and labor leaders have been at the bargaining table trying to reach a deal on a new contract for eight months.

The two sides have been operating under the terms of a contract that was extended after it expired in March.

"We're ready to fight to preserve good jobs," union leaders said in a statement. "We understand this is a tough economy, but we're willing to stand up for workers everywhere being taken advantage of by profitable corporations. It is unfair and wrong for these corporations doing so well to use the economy as an excuse to squeeze those working paycheck to paycheck."

Vons, which like Pavilions is owned by Safeway Inc., released a statement in response to the action:

We are disappointed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals' decision to give the employers 72 hour notice of the cancellation of the contract extension. Doing so needlessly alarms our employees and our customers.

The notice does not mean a strike is imminent or that a strike will necessarily occur at any point. The notice simply allows the union the ability to call a strike if they choose to do so. Vons and the other employers intend to remain focused on the negotiation process and urge the unions to do so the same.

Union negotiators want the stores to pay the same share of their health care benefits as in the past, but their opponents want the employees to pay up to 80 percent of the costs, said Mickey Kasparian, the UFCW head in San Diego.

He said in June that the issue was the same as the one that prompted a 141-day strike in 2003-04.

Hoa Quach and City News Service contributed to this report.

Jonathan Friedman September 17, 2011 at 03:32 PM
PC Greens will remain open.
Hans Laetz September 17, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Do NOT cross picket lines! We have to save the middle class. It's going to be inconvenient as hell, but imagine these workers with a bankrupt health insurance program. These enormously-profitable, too-big-to-fail supermarket chains are offering "affordable" health insurance while not funding the insurance pool, leaving it prone to fail in 13 months. Next time you hear someone sneer about "Obamacare," take a good look at what the current system is doing to American companies and workers. Kroger's and Safeway execs are piling up profits and perks ... remember that when you stand in line at Costco or TJ or PCH Green. Lord, I miss HOWS.
Scott Charnick September 17, 2011 at 04:20 PM
All those that go on strike should just be fired - there's 10% of the US work force looking for jobs right now - or better yet, fill the job slots with the Mexican immigrants that want the chance to work here - they are some of the hardest working people around and generally work for nothing, so yes, I will step over the picket line, every day...
Rick Petitfils September 17, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Its unfortunate that the mafia unions force their workers to go on strike. They do not want to go on strike. The union heads lie and make millions off their workers and put millions into corrupt Sacaramento politicians coffers. I feel sorry for the thousands of workers who will lose their homes and go deeply into debt. Next time vote to go non union and you will be much better off and won't have to pay the corrupt union mafia anymore ridiculous dues for nothing more to line their pockets and feed the corupt politicians.
Lenny Shaw September 17, 2011 at 09:06 PM
The greed of both the Safeway ( Pavillion's) and Kroger ( Ralph's) corporations go far beyond the legitimate issues of this strike. Bottom line: The employees are harshly treated on a regular basis. There is NO discount for food offered to the staff, no matter how much seniority they have. They are spyed on, by "secret shoppers", which is only acceptable if they are suspected of theft In the case of Kroger (Ralph's ), many are discouraged from even applying. The application of Kroger requires one to answer questions such as " Have you ever been homeless?" "Have you ever been on food stamps?"... This is illegal and discriminatory. No one wants a strike, but the good people of Malibu should know what goes on in their community, and to those who are of lesser means, but dailyhelp to make the lives of people here more enjoyable.

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