SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Union grocery workers in San Diego County began preparations for a possible Unfair Labor Practice strike by coming together Wednesday to make picket signs. Members of UFCW Local 135 at Ralphs, Albertsons, and Vons, as well as elected leaders from throughout San Diego County, will gather from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. to manufacture the thousands of picket signs needed if a strike is called.
Grocery shoppers at the Clairemont Vons in 2003 complained of the inconvenience of the Supermarket Strike, where picketers held up their strike signs directly in front of store entrances.
That strike lasted nearly 5 months and took its toll on employees.
Fast forward to today, now that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), representing over 47,000 food workers at Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions, announced the majority of its members voted to authorize a strike.
The union says workers are demanding a wage increase and a fair contract, so if employees begin to strike, will it impact shoppers nowadays in getting groceries?
Target shopper Tyler McMilion says he typically goes to Vons or whatever is convenient but also prefers buying food on Amazon Fresh.
"Your average to market is definitely getting out-played by online alternatives. I think Amazon has pretty good deals on its groceries, and if you're on food stamps, you can actually get price differences on Amazon,” said McMilion.
Online grocery delivery options include Instacart, Door Dash, Shipt and Amazon Fresh, where shoppers select the items they want from ground beef to dishwashing liquid, they place it in their cart, and can have their purchases delivered within hours.
"I see people, well neighbors mostly get their stuff delivered to their house all the time,” said McMilion.
In addition to Mom-and-Pop shops, there are chain grocery alternatives to stores that could have workers on strike, including: Costco, Sprouts, Target, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Stater Brothers, Smart and Final, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market and Walmart.
McMilion said says he supports grocery employees fighting for more money, but says online grocery delivery has become a great go-to.
"You run out of an item, you press a button, and it'll ship it to you within a couple days, and it's a lot simpler than putting your keys in the car and driving over to the grocery store,” said McMilion.
In a statement, Ralphs said:
"A strike authorization vote doesn't mean a strike will happen, but it does create unnecessary concern for our associates and communities, at a time when we should be coming together in good faith bargaining to find solutions and compromise."
Albertsons said in a statement:
"We are committed to working collaboratively to ensure that we reach an agreement that is fair to our employees, good for our customers, and allows Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions to remain competitive in the Southern California market."
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