In a new labor rift at Raley's a month after its strike ended, the union representing the grocer's workers said Monday it won't count the members' contract-ratification votes until it gets serious grievances resolved.
Jacques Loveall, president of Local 8 of the United Food and Commercial Workers in Roseville, cited Raley's "flagrant violation of the strike settlement" in his refusal to release the results of the voting. The votes were supposed to be counted Monday.
Loveall's announcement suggests that the truce between Raley's and its unionized workforce is as fragile as ever. Nonetheless, workers aren't being summoned back to the picket lines. Loveall said he expects the issues to be resolved by Jan. 2. "The ballots are now in a vault and will not be counted until there is resolution of the grievances," he said in an email.
Workers returned to work after the tentative accord in the 10-day strike Nov. 13. The new contract calls for wage and benefit concessions as the West Sacramento chain tries to recapture market share from nonunion competitors.
Loveall didn't spell out exactly why the UFCW is withholding the results of the balloting. But the president of UFCW Local 5 in San Jose, Ron Lind, told his members earlier this month that Raley's had illegally implemented some of the terms of the new contract specifically, some wage cuts even though it hadn't yet been ratified.
Raley's had already imposed those terms at the onset of the strike Nov. 4 and has said it's within its rights to keep those terms in place even though the settlement hasn't been ratified. But Lind said the UFCW has filed a grievance against Raley's with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the two sides had agreed that the old contract would go back in force pending ratification.
Raley's spokesman John Segale said Monday that "both parties agreed to binding arbitration for any dispute. The union needs to file a grievance rather than impound the ballots so this can be quickly resolved."
Under the tentative agreement, workers will lose bonus pay for Sundays and holidays, and new hires will lose bonus pay for night shifts. The workers also agreed to higher costs for health insurance.