< Harvest info goes here >

Randy Pench / Bee file, 2010

Shoppers check the produce section at a Raley's grocery. Amid rising competition from nonunion stores, the supermarket chain's sales fell in 2011 to $3.3 billion from $3.36 billion the year before.

Raley's demands union vote on 'last' contract offer

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 3, 2013 - 6:38 am

Raley's on Tuesday demanded that its labor union let workers vote on its "last and final" contract offer.

The West Sacramento grocer hinted it could impose changes in work terms if there's no vote on the offer, which it submitted to leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers nearly two weeks ago.

Raley's, like Northern California's other unionized grocery chains, wants concessions to compete against nonunion grocers. It made the offer in an effort to break a logjam that's lasted more than a year.

Union officials have dismissed the offer as inadequate and are seeking new talks "to at least clarify the proposal," according to UFCW Local 5 in San Jose.

In a memo to workers, Raley's Chief Executive Michael Teel said, "I cannot sit back while the union leadership refuses to call for a vote. This delay will only cause more economic harm resulting in more store closures and layoffs."

If there's no vote soon, the "lack of action will force Raley's to make significant changes," he added.

If Raley's were to implement new work terms unilaterally, it could provoke a walkout. Members of both locals – 5 in San Jose and Local 8 in Roseville – have already authorized a strike.

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's demanding proof that Raley's is in financial trouble.

Teel said Raley's offered again to open its books. "This marks the second time we have shared our financial information with the union leadership," he wrote.

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."

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