Two Southern California grocery workers union locals are merging in a move they say will allow them to spend more time and money organizing nonunion retailers.
Local 1036 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union will merge into UFCW Local 770 early next month after votes by the membership of both groups this week.
The merger will create the single largest local in the grocery workers union, with more than 40,000 members working at stores in a region that stretches from Los Angeles north to Santa Maria and Bakersfield.
The merger will establish a “state-of-the-art organizing department” that will seek members at nonunion retailers, said Rick Icaza, president of Local 770, which will be the surviving local with Local 1036 dissolved. “By pooling all our resources we will be able to afford to do that.”
He believes the larger group will have more power in collective bargaining and enjoy money-saving efficiencies.
“Right now we represent the retail clerks in the Palmdale and Lancaster area and 1036 represents the meat clerks there. So instead of having two business agents servicing that area we can have just one now,” Icaza said.
Ralphs and Albertsons, two of the big supermarket chains with UFCW contracts, declined to comment on the pending merger.
Local 770 was founded in 1927 with seven members. With headquarters in Los Angeles, it now has about 30,000 members, who work in food retailing and at drugstores, packing houses and pharmacies. It was an early Southern California proponent of equal pay for women and anti-discrimination clauses in union contracts.
Headquartered in Camarillo, Local 1036 was found in 1941 and represents about 12,000 workers. Local 1036 members who work in Mono, Inyo and Kern counties will probably shift to UFCW Local 8, headquartered in Roseville.