Tentative settlement in Raley’s contract dispute

Nine-day strike at Auburn Raley’s store at an end
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Picketing at Auburn’s Raley’s store ended Tuesday after a tentative agreement was reached between the supermarket chain and the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

And while details of the contract aren’t immediately being released, a Raley’s spokesman said the store will emerge from 15 months of negotiations with a new pact that gives it the costs savings it needs to keep it competitive.

Striking Raley’s employees joined thousands of other union members around Northern and Central California in a return to work that followed more than a week of picketing.

In Auburn, Raley’s remained open behind picket lines through a strike that started Nov. 4. Bel Air in Auburn – also owned by Raley’s – was not picketed.

Union leaders said Tuesday that they would put the new tentative agreement to a vote by members and are recommending ratification. The pact is also being submitted to union members at Bel Air.

Jacques Loveall, Local 8 United Food and Commercial Workers president, said picket lines were immediately withdrawn Tuesday from Raley’s and Nob Hill stores.

More than 7,000 Raley’s and Nob Hill employees walked out. There are about 90 employees at the Raley’s in Auburn, which is located at the Auburn Ravine Center off Interstate 80 at the Foresthill exit. The union and Raley’s have provided no breakdown on the number of employees who were out on strike.

Raley’s President Mike Teel said that employees, customers, the company and communities served by the chain “suffered” during the labor dispute.

“So it gives me great pleasure to know that as of today our employees will be back to work serving our customers with the same attention and care we have always served our customers,” Teel said.

Talks had broken down but resumed Sunday after Raley’s made an initial overture to Local 8, according to the union.

Loveall said in a statement jointly issued with Local 5 union president Ron Lind that the tentative pact is an “important accomplishment” for members and retirees. The terms aren’t being released until union members vote.

“Because of the resolve and solidarity exhibited by our members and allies in the labor movement, along with the extraordinary support of our customers, we were able to address Raley’s competitive concerns while protecting our membership in a very challenging time,” Loveall said.

Raley’s issued a statement that spelled out its concerns and the pressures leading to a dispute that marked the first strike in the history of the 77-year-old Sacramento-based company.

“In recent years, there has been a huge increase of more than 240 non-union retailers either opening or expanding their stores specifically to sell groceries (in the area covered by Raley’s stores),” Raley’s stated. “This coupled with the recession and skyrocketing health-care costs, created a number of issues which both the store and the union had to work through.”