Albertson's, Ralphs, Vons unionized employees authorize strike - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Albertson's, Ralphs, Vons unionized employees vote to authorize strike

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SAN DIEGO (CNS/News 8) - Unionized employees of Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons voted on Wednesday night to authorize a strike, if necessary.

More than 90 percent of the members of Local 135 of the United Food and Commercial Workers voted to approve a walk-out.  

Six other union locals throughout Southern California took a similar vote Wednesday.

Union leaders could now ask workers to walk off the job at any point. Many union members have been without a contract since March 6.

The stores and the union are still at odds over the terms of new deal.

In 2003-04, a 141-day strike in Southern California was estimated to have cost the stores about $1.5 billion.

A notice on the UFCW Local 135 Web site said the vote, which is mandatory for members, comes after months of negotiations with the stores.

"When I saw what was being proposed, it was one of the most ridiculous proposals I've ever seen," Iggy Ponce de Leon told 10News.

He said employees also suffered in the 2003-04 strike.

"Unfortunately, if we have to do it again, we'll do it again," Ponce de Leon said.

The vote is an "unnecessary distraction," said Daymond Rice of Safeway, which owns Vons.

"We had been making slow, but steady progress toward our goal of negotiating a new contract that is good for our employees and good for the business," Rice said. "We urge the unions to return to the bargaining table so that we can continue negotiations and finish the job."

Some employees voted this morning at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, while more are scheduled to cast ballots beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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