Reporting Anjali Hemphill
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A strike at Raley’s is over after workers and the company reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.
West Sacramento-based Raley’s and the United Food and Commercial Workers union announced the deal on Tuesday. Union officials said that picket lines would immediately be withdrawn from all Raley’s and Nob Hill stores.
The parties did not provide any details of the settlement. However, the union says it was able to retain one of its most important benefits, a union-run health plan.
“This is very exciting because this contract provides us with the cost savings we need to fund our vision and the initiatives to make us more competitive in the 21st Century,“ said Mike Teel, president of Raley’s. “I greatly appreciate the incredible effort put forth by our employees and company during this time as well as thank the many customers who continued to support us. As one of the last large family-owned grocery chains, it will be great to have everyone back working again.”
George Thoma spent the last 10 days standing outside of a Raley’s protesting but Tuesday he walked inside to find out when his first shift back on the job would be.
“We’re all really excited to get back to work,” he said. “We like the company and we like working. Who doesn’t? It was all worth it.”
The agreement ends 15 months of negotiations that broke down over retiree health care benefits.
“When our members return to work, there will be no reprisal for them exercising their rights, and our members will maintain their positions, seniority and their healthcare eligibility,” union leader Jacques Loveall said in announcing the deal to employees.
Jo Barker isn’t only a customer, she just retired from Raley’s. The thought of being without health care had her worried sick.
“I had to shop at Safeway last week and it broke my heart,” she said. “I’ll be back here this week. I was literally in tears because I’ve been so stressed over the past 10 days worried about it.”
Starting now, customers and employees won’t have to cross the picket lines to head inside the store.
“I’m just glad they worked it out,” a customer said outside Raley’s in Natomas.
The full agreement will stay secret for now pending official union ratification, but that’s not stopping some from already celebrating.
“I just want to tell everyone who stood strong, ‘thank you, thank you very much,’” Barker said.
It was the first strike in the history of the 77-year-old company.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)