Raley's today demanded that its labor union let workers vote on the supermarket chain's "last and final" contract offer and hinted that it could impose changes in labor terms.
The West Sacramento grocer submitted its final offer nearly two weeks ago in an attempt to break a logjam in negotiations that's lasted more than a year. Raley's, like Northern California's other unionized chains, wants pay and benefit concessions to compete with nonunion grocers.
"I cannot sit back while the union leadership refuses to call for a vote," said Raley's Chief Executive Michael Teel in a memo to workers. "This delay will only cause more economic harm resulting in more store closures and layoffs."
United Food and Commercial Workers officials weren't available for comment but have already called the offer inadequate. The union has said it's willing to help the company - as it did in agreeing to a new cost-saving contract with Save Mart Supermarkets - but it won't budge without proof that Raley's is in financial trouble.
Teel's memo said Raley's offered again this week to open its books to the union. "This marks the second time we have shared our financial information with the union leadership," he wrote.
UFCW Local 5, in a memo on its website, said the federal mediator is trying to revive contract talks but "to date Raley's is refusing to agree to his request."
Members of the two UFCW locals, Local 5 in San Jose and Local 8 in Roseville, have already authorized a strike.
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