by Photo courtesy of the San Diego Food and Commercial Workers

About 47,000 supermarket workers in Southern California continue to work even though they authorized their union to call a strike over the weekend.

The San Diego Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 said it would continue negotiations on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the possibility of a strike remains latent.

The San Diego Union said it represents about 60,000 workers and is one of seven negotiating with supermarket companies Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Stater Bros., and Gelson's.

Workers have cast votes over the past week, and Saturday's tally found "overwhelmingly" that they support the strike if necessary to push for better working conditions.

The impasse is that the workers demand an increase of $5 per hour worked in the collective contract that will be in force for three years; the previous contract expired on March 7.

The companies, for their part, offered a 60-cent increase per hour of work.

The leaders of the seven unions, from central California to the border with Mexico, insisted that this amount was insufficient, especially in the face of inflation and after the pandemic.

Health benefits would continue as they were in the previous contract.

Patty Figueroa, a worker at Albertsons, said that "every day is a lot of hard work and barely enough money to pay the bills. I don't want to live paycheck to paycheck."

She opined that "these companies make a lot of profit from our hard work and violate our rights. They need to do better for us."

The union warned that "During the last two years of the pandemic, it was the hard work and sacrifice of our members that helped these same companies make billions in profits."

She said that as negotiations continue, all of our local unions are committed to getting a contract that reflects all that these essential grocery workers have contributed to their employers, their customers, and their communities.

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