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Union files grievances with Haggen, Vons and Albertsons

Union files grievances with Haggen, Vons and Albertsons
A union has filed grievances against grocery store chains Haagen, Vons and Albertsons for alleged violations of collective bargaining agreements. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A union has filed grievances with Haggen Inc., Vons and Albertsons, alleging that recent layoffs and reduced hours for employees at Haggen stores violated a collective bargaining agreement.

The grievances, which are called official complaints, were given to the companies Monday, said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770. The union also asked for a formal meeting, which they are trying to schedule, he said.

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After Pacific Northwest chain Haggen bought 146 Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Safeway stores in December, the union said prior contractual guarantees gave employees the choice to stay at the Haggen-owned stores or transfer to another Albertsons or Vons store. The union said workers were led to believe that they would retain their jobs, contract protections and seniority if they worked with Haggen.

"We had every assurance by the company, by both companies, that this was going to be very good," he said. "Just the opposite is happening."

In July, Haggen announced layoffs and reduced hours for workers. Earlier this month, the company said it would close 27 stores, including 16 supermarkets in California. According to the union, the company has said it would eliminate the jobs of as many as 1,100 employees.

The union said it believes Haggen planned all along to close those stores.

Haggen disputed this claim, calling it "completely and unequivocally false."

"Throughout this process, Haggen has abided by the terms of the union contracts and is continuing to do everything it can to ensure the success of all of our stores and employees," the company said in a statement.

Albertsons and Vons spokesman Carlos Illingworth said the company had not yet seen the details of the grievance.

"Our reaction is that the union's media statements about Albertsons and Vons, that we have reviewed thus far, are completely without merit," he said in a statement.

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