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California Grocery Strike OK'd

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Southern California grocery workers – including workers at Ralphs, a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. – voted Sunday to give their union the right to strike, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Contract talks broke off last week between the United Food and Commercial Workers union and Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons over a new agreement for 65,000 workers from Bakersfield to the Mexican border.

And so, it’s on. (Barring a last-minute settlement). The L.A. “season of strikes” begins. These negotiations — unlike those between WGA and the producers, which haven’t even started yet — have been going on for months, with little give and take.

In the case of grocery workers, though, it’s not about “new media,” but rather that other thorny labor “wedge issue,” health care.

If the walkout happens, SAG has already announced its support of the AFL-CIO brethren who will be walking the (picket) line.

Albertson's

It will, as previously noted, become very interesting for the Teamsters, who provide the pivotal role in getting food from warehouse to retailers. Last time, they drove as far as the curb, in order to let managers and scabs unload the goods (Technically, no picket lines were crossed).

But if both the grocery unions and the writers walk — shutting down major food stores (Ralph’s, Von’s, Pavillions, Albertson’s) and film sets simultaneously (if the grocers’ strike should drag way on into fall), the transpo folk will have precious little to do, through no particular labor strife fault-of-their-own.

Still, what the looming grocers’ strike shows us, though, is the increased intransigence between management and labor (even when that “labor” has the potential to lead to an Oscar or Emmy nomination, and not just another grinding 40-plus hour workweek on your feet), and how, two decades after the Reagan administration first got away with smashing unions without any political repercussions, the ownership class deeply resents — it would seem — having to negotiate anything at all.

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