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Grocery Store Workers To Decide Whether To Go On Strike After Labor Contract Expires

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A labor contract for Southern California's grocery store workers expired at midnight Monday, and with negotiations stalled, a strike could be on the horizon.

Representatives with United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 say negotiations with Southern California's major supermarkets broke down over the weekend without a new contract. After picketing stores in Baldwin Hills and Tustin last week, next step for workers would be to vote on whether to go on strike, which could happen as soon as later this week.

"When we began negotiations with Ralphs and Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions in January, we came prepared with comprehensive proposals and a clear path toward negotiating a contract that reflects your value and the sacrifices you have made," the union said in a series of tweets to its members. "We are disheartened to inform you that Ralphs and Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions squandered the unique opportunity to propose a contract with better wages and benefits in a time of immense profit. They have failed."

Members of UFCW Local 770 work at Albertsons, Gelson's, Pavilions, Ralphs, Stater Bros., and Vons stores across the region. A representative of Kroger, the parent company of Ralphs and Food 4 Less, said they continue to be open to meeting with the union to reach an equitable deal.

"It's unfortunate that substantial progress toward reaching an agreement was not made during our 12 total days of bargaining with the union," Robert Branton, vice president of operations at Ralphs, said in a statement. "While the company made several wage proposals, the union continues to propose very costly items which impacts our ability to meet customer needs and remain competitive."

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