Raley's says there's a deal to end the strike
Nov 13, 2012 (The Sacramento Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Raley's and its labor union said today they have struck a deal to end its strike.
Both sides said the agreement means picket lines will be immediately taken down, pending a ratification vote.
The announcement from Raley's came after a marathon negotiating session in San Francisco that went all night and into the morning.
Bargaining resumed over the weekend.
The United Food and Commercial Workers said it was able to preserve one of it's most important benefits -- a union-run health plan.
"This is an important accomplishment for our members and retirees," the union said.
Raley's didn't provide any details of the agreement in its announcement. At the Raley's on Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento, striking workers early today said they'd been told by the union to stand by for an announcement. One striker, Tom Birtwell, said he saw a store manager haul down the "help wanted" sign advertising for replacement workers.
"I can't wait -- I'd love to go back to work," he said.
Raley's Chief Executive Michael Teel, in a press statement, said the new contract "provides us with the cost savings we need to fund our vision and the initiatives to make us more competitive....It is important to remember that everyone including our employees, our customers, our company and the communities we serve have suffered in this labor dispute."
The UFCW went on strike a week ago Sunday over the grocer's demands for wage and benefit concessions. In particular, the workers rebelled against Raley's proposals to restructure their health care plan and eliminate coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees.
The company said that while sales were affected by the walkout, revenue was steadily improving in recent days. Raley's also said well more than half the UFCW members crossed their own picket line to return to work.
But Raley's may have suffered a setback last Thursday, when rival Safeway signed a tentative labor agreement with the union. The deal preserved the union-preferred health plan and left Raley's as the only unionized grocery chain in the region without a contract. Save Mart Supermarkets made a deal with the union in September.
The company hired more than 500 replacement workers. Union officials said they will be dismissed immediately.
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Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066.
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