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Grocery Workers Battling Over Health Insurance Plan Vote on Strike Authorization Today

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Ballots are being cast today and tomorrow by unionized grocery workers from the big local chains and a strike could be authorized as a result. "Depending on the outcome of this vote, a strike could happen as early as next week," notes ABC7. The issue remains the employees' health care plan, and its monthly cost. The Daily Breeze explains the two sides of the health coverage debate as it stands:

Union officials have condemned the grocery chains' health-care offer, saying workers would be forced to spend almost half of their salaries to cover health costs. The grocery chains insist, however, that the latest proposal would maintain most health-care expenses at their current levels and cost workers only $9 a week for single coverage or $23 for family coverage.

Workers from Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons may not end up striking, though, since a vote to authorize doesn't necessarily lead to a walkout.

However, some of the chains have put feelers out for hiring extra workers to come on the job in case they lose their current unionized employees.

The last time grocery workers went on strike in 2003, the result was disastrous in the long run for the stores, who wound up losing an estimated $1 billion in revenue. Many customers who would not cross picket lines found new stores at which to shop, and never came back.

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Previously: Grocery Store Showdown: Workers' Strike May Come Next Week