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Save Mart, union contract talks in federal mediation

Deadline set for July 10; Raley?s, Local 8 still not talking
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - With no settlement in contract talks with Save Mart management, union bargainers and negotiators for the supermarket chain have opted for mediation and a July 10 deadline to come to an agreement. Jacques Loveall, president of Roseville-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8, told members on the union website that the union realizes it is a ?tense and difficult time? for members and their families but a new contract is possible if they continue to stand strong. ?After many months of complicated negotiations over extremely difficult issues, we have agreed to a federal mediator to help us close the remaining gaps,? Loveall said. Mediation includes what is called a ?hard? deadline of July 10 to come to an agreement. Alicia Rockwell, Save Mart director of public affairs, said Tuesday that the business agreed to a short extension for bargaining with the union?s Locals 5, 8 and 648, lasting through next Tuesday. ?As part of the agreement to the extension, a federal mediator will be brought in to help resolve any remaining differences,? Rockwell said. ?A labor strike is not beneficial for our company or our associates and an agreement must be reached quickly.? Rockwell said the business ? which has a store in Auburn at the Auburn Town Center on Elm Avenue ? anticipates that an agreement can be reached that will provide job security for employees, more opportunity for work hours, and allow the company to stay competitive in the retail food marketplace. On a separate negotiating front, Raley?s ? which has Bel-Air and Raley?s stores in Auburn ? is at an impasse with Local 8 that started June 6. ?There are no new negotiations planned at this time,? Raley?s spokesman John Segale said. ?In terms of a lockout, it has not even been discussed at this point. We?re still continuing to look for some type of workable solution. We don?t want a strike, employees don?t want to go on strike and we know our customers don?t want a strike.? Segale said recent union contract proposals have been both unworkable and unrealistic. ?We?re not going to reach a solution if they?re coming to the bargaining table with outlandish proposals,? Segale said. ?We?ve been very clear we need to make some reductions in operating costs so we can compete more competitively. They?re well aware of our needs and the economic situation the country is in right now.? Segale added that it?s up to the union to produce a revised ?responsible? proposal. ?If they do, we?ll definitely sit down and talk,? he said. Loveall said that nobody wants a strike but to avoid a labor dispute, Raley?s management needs to stop trying to impose cutbacks ?and start working with us to find reasonable and workable solutions.? ?Raley?s has taken a counterproductive approach to the current round of negotiations,? Loveall said. ?Its selection of a union buster to head its bargaining team has poisoned the atmosphere. This individual appears to be more interested in antagonizing than seeking a settlement to serve the interests of workers as well as management.? In terms of getting back to the bargaining table, Loveall said the union is ready to move forward ?whenever management is ready to conclude this process on a positive note.?