Food 4 Less workers ratify new labor deal

Unionized Food 4 Less grocery workers voted to ratify a new three-year labor contract with the grocer, the union announced Wednesday.

"Today, by ratifying this contract, Food 4 Less/Foods Co. workers have secured meaningful raises, increased hours for part-time workers, and a more direct path to top-rate pay over the next three years," according to a joint statement from the various included locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. "After countless hours at the bargaining table and in the streets between their shifts, the hard-working members of UFCW stood together for their families and each other and secured a strong contract.

"This contract is a concrete and direct result of the tireless work of the member-led bargaining committee. Together, our members are fighting for a more promising future, and this contract will help to achieve that goal."

Workers had previously authorized a work stoppage if labor talks failed. But last week, representatives of UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442 announced that they had reached a tentative deal that includes "substantial wage increases for all workers, more guaranteed hours and other contract improvements."

Union officials said Wednesday the agreement includes wage increases for all workers, more hours guaranteed for part-time workers, reduction in the number of hours it takes to reach top-rate pay, additional premiums for select positions, ratification bonuses and an increased starting wage rate.

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Food 4 Less has 15 stores in the Los Angeles area and is a subsidiary of The Kroger Co., which also owns Ralphs. The union represents roughly 6,000 workers.

Kroger spokesman Salvador Ramirez said earlier the company had "presented a historic offer that includes over $70 million in wage investments, industry-leading healthcare, and retirement benefits."

"Our associates are the heartbeat of our company, and we will continue to do everything we can to balance investments in wages and overall associate well-being while keeping food affordable for our customers," he said in a statement last month. "Our stores will continue to be open for business to serve our communities."