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Grocery Workers Battling Over Health Insurance Vote to Authorize A Strike

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Grocery workers negotiating for a better health care plan have rejected a proposal by the management of Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons.

More than 90 percent of the eligible 62,000 unionized workers in the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 voted this weekend to reject the contract and authorize a strike, which could happen as soon as this week.

Supermarket chains may come back with a better offer, the Orange County Register Reports. If not, union members could decide to give immediate notice to strike and then walk out 72 hours later.

In the meantime, grocery stores that could be affected by a strike began taking applications from new workers this week that would replace the strikers.

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Both sides say that they'd like to avoid a strike, because the 141 day-strike in 2003 ended up hurting everyone. Grocery stores lost over $1 billion in revenue, and some workers, including one who spoke at the union's meeting on Friday, felt that they didn't gain much.

The Orange County Register noted the exchange:

"How can we trust that this isn't going to turn out like '03," one male worker asked union leaders Friday during an informational meeting. "We gained nothing in five months. Not only did we gain nothing, we lost a lot." Union leader Greg Conger responded: "I don't think you ever recover from a 141-day strike. And you certainly never forget. But if you are not being treated fairly, you still have to stand up and fight."

Both the Orange County Register and Orange County Weekly have a list of places to shop, if the strike moves forward.