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Raley's workers on strike in region

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Media Life columnist
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Raley’s workers are on strike, but stores in Lincoln and Auburn remain open.

The strike, which started Sunday, followed a stalemate in contract talks that extended over the summer and into the fall as Raley’s and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8 failed to reach agreement on a new pact. Raley’s stores are being picketed throughout the region.

Both sides were blaming the other for the breakdown in talks and what is being described by Raley’s as the first strike in its 77-year history.

UFCW presidents Jacques Loveall and Ron Lind said in a joint statement that progress in negotiations was “stymied” by lack of good faith on the part of Raley’s negotiators.

“We look forward to returning to the bargaining table when Raley’s management has adopted a more constructive attitude,” the two stated. “Our goal from the beginning is to negotiate a fair agreement serving the needs of both Raley’s and its union employees.”

John Segale, spokesman for Raley’s, said the biggest issue has been attempting to get the union to have members vote on their latest contract offer.

“We provided our last and final offer four weeks ago and the union refused to let its membership vote,” Segale said. “We believe that if it went to a vote, they would vote for it. And if, by chance, they did not, we would have to go back to the table and come up with a different offer.”

With about half of Raley’s unionized employees crossing picket lines to go to work over the past two days, Segale said that the store is continuing to do its best to serve customers.

At the Lincoln store about 25 people picketed in front of the store and along Lincoln Boulevard on Monday. They remain on strike.

Husband and wife Dave and Toni McDaniel of Wheatland said the major issue for them is health care benefits and retirement. The couple has been married 19 years.

Dave McDaniel, a receiving clerk, has worked for Raley’s for 31 years. His wife Toni, a deli clerk, has been employed by the grocery store for five years.

“He retires in three years and his benefits are stronger than mine,” Toni McDaniel said. “We have a child who is hearing impaired who needs expensive hearing aids. We depend on his benefits.”

A retiree, Robbie Summers of Sun City Lincoln Hills, joined the picket line. Summers worked for Raley’s as a truck driver for 32 years.

“I came out to support my fellow union members,” Summers said.

Lincoln Raley’s shopper Ken Fedder said he does not have much sympathy for the workers.

Lincoln News Messenger Reporter Patty McAlpin contributed to this report.