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Raleys supermarket workers authorize strike; walkout does not appear imminent

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POSTED June 6, 2012 8:43 p.m.

WEST SACRAMENTO  (AP) — More workers at one of Northern California's largest supermarket chains authorized union leaders to call a strike after contract talks stalled, but a walkout did not appear imminent.

Local 8 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said Wednesday that 80 percent of its members voted to allow union leaders to call a strike against Raley's supermarkets.

However, both sides agreed to meet on Friday to resume contract talks, so a strike does not appear imminent, the Sacramento Bee reported (http://bit.ly/M8PsVv).

Another arm of the union, Local 5, previously voted to authorize a strike. United Food and Commercial Workers represents a majority of Raley's 7,750 unionized workers.

The vote by Local 8 this week came after Raley's declared an impasse in contract talks.

Union officials have objected to cuts in health care benefits and premium pay they say Raley's has proposed.

Raley's says it needs to cut costs in the face of a weak economy and competition from nonunionized companies that sell groceries, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Raley's disputed the union's strike authorization figures.

Store managers believe the yes vote was around 70 percent, which indicates lukewarm support for a walkout, Raley's spokesman John Segale told the Bee.

"I am very pleased that so many of you bravely noted NO," Raley's Chief Executive Michael Teel wrote in a memo to workers.

Local 8 President Jacques Loveall said Raley's was trying to spin the results.

"The company's interpretation of the vote is yet another example of its insensitivity to your needs and sentiments," he said in a message to union members posted online.

 

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