Southern California grocery store workers authorize a strike

After months of stalled contract negotiations, grocery workers at Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Ralphs stores voted this week to give union leaders the authority to call a strike.

Members of seven United Food and Commercial Workers union locals, covering Southern California and a swath of Central California, voted overwhelmingly to allow a strike, labor leaders said Wednesday. They did not disclose how many of their 46,000 members voted, but they said that of those who did, 96% voted yes.

The vote itself does not trigger a strike, but it gives union leaders the ability to call a walkout whenever they want. That can provide additional leverage during contract negotiations even if they never choose to strike.

Employees are still working under a three-year contract that expired March 3. …

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