Kroger Co., Safeway Inc. and Albertsons Inc. have filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against one of the union locals on strike in Southern California.
The supermarkets alleged in a complaint filed Monday that United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 in Orange County was threatening employees who were considering crossing picket lines to return to work during the strike.
Last month the UCFW launched a strike against Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Pavilions stores in Southern and Central California. The next day Kroger Co.'s Ralphs and Albertsons locked out their union workers in a show of solidarity.
In all, about 70,000 workers at 859 stores are affected by the strike and lockout.
The supermarkets released a joint statement Tuesday accusing Greg Conger, president of Local 324, of using letters to coerce and threaten employees against returning to work at Vons and Pavilions stores during the labor dispute. Union employees at Ralphs and Albertsons stores are locked out and cannot be hired back.
Union spokeswoman Ellen Anreder said she had not seen the complaint. "These are desperate measures," she said. "What they are trying to do is blame the unions because workers are not crossing the picket lines."
Meanwhile, contract talks continued Tuesday between the supermarkets and the union under Peter J. Hurtgen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Representatives of both sides have agreed not to discuss the progress of the talks, which are being held at an undisclosed location.
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On February 12, 2004 the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which had stated repeatedly that 70,000 workers were involved in the supermarket labor dispute in Central and Southern California, said that the number of people on strike or locked out was actually 59,000. A union spokeswoman, Barbara Maynard, said that 70,000 UFCW members were, in fact, covered by the labor contract with supermarkets that expired last year. But 11,000 of them worked for Stater Bros. Holdings Inc., Arden Group Inc.'s Gelson's and other regional grocery companies and were still on the job. (See: "UFCW Revises Number of Workers in Labor Dispute," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2004, Business C-11)
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