The grocery workers union says it is close to signing a new contract with Safeway Inc., bringing Northern California's turbulent supermarket industry another step closer to labor peace.
Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers announced on its website that negotiators made "significant progress toward a new contract" Friday and Saturday.
The San Jose local predicted an agreement could be announced soon. But the Central Valley bargaining unit, Roseville's Local 8, wouldn't go that far.
"Negotiations are ongoing. They are fluid and extremely complex," Local 8 President Jacques Loveall said in a statement forwarded Monday to The Bee.
A contract between the UFCW and Safeway would leave Raley's as the only unionized grocer in Northern California without a labor contract.
The West Sacramento supermarket chain has been the most vocal about seeking wage and benefit concessions from workers. But if Safeway gets a new contract, labor experts believe Raley's would have almost no choice but to cut a deal with the union.
So far, Save Mart Supermarkets is the only chain with a deal in place. The Modesto-based grocer finalized its contract with the UFCW two weeks ago.
Save Mart's new contract provides for wage and benefit concessions of the kind Raley's and Safeway have also sought. Among other things, workers agreed to forgo certain wage bonuses for nighttime shifts and will begin contributing toward their family members' health insurance premiums.
All three chains have been pushing for concessions for nearly a year, arguing that they need help from the union to regain market share from Wal-Mart and other nonunion grocers.
In its announcement, Local 5 gave few details about the Safeway negotiations but said more talks were held Monday. Officials with the union couldn't be reached for comment.
Safeway officials also couldn't be reached.
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