Credit: Omar Rashad | Mustang News

After two months of negotiation and potential for a strike, Kroger and Albertsons reached a tentative bargaining agreement with the union representing its workers across the Central Coast and Southern California on Monday.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents more than 60,000 grocery store employees from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, lauded the tentative agreement as a significant win.

In negotiations, the union pushed for higher wages, guaranteed hours for part-time workers, better health benefits and improved store safety. The union is waiting for its members to pass the tentative agreement with a two-thirds vote before releasing specific details on negotiated items. 

Manny Estrada, a union bargaining committee member and a pharmacist at a Vons in Grover Beach, told Mustang News the final bargaining session went on for more than a day — from Sunday at 10 a.m. until Monday at 6 p.m. 

“I believe that this tentative agreement is a very monumental agreement,” Estrada said. “When you see what it is that we were able to do, people are going to be shocked.”

Grocery store workers along the Central Coast impacted by the negotiations include employees at Albertsons in Paso Robles and Morro Bay, Vons in Nipomo, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach, and Ralphs in San Luis Obispo and Los Osos.

On March 26, 95% of the union’s members voted to authorize a strike after the union alleged that Albertsons was violating federal labor regulations in a number of ways, including unlawfully surveilling workers protesting low wages and outsourcing some of its labor needs to non-union third parties.

Estrada said the vote to authorize a strike added pressure to reach a tentative agreement on Monday.

“If we hadn’t done what we had done and came to this tentative agreement, I fully believe that we were going to be ready to strike stores,” Estrada said. “There was no bluff.”

Spokespeople for Albertsons and Kroger both confirmed to Mustang News that a tentative agreement had been reached with the union.

Albertsons spokesperson Courtney Carranza did not respond to questions about allegations that Albertsons surveilled its workers or broke federal laws.

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