Vons workers settle with company. Strike averted

The union representing about 62,000 Southern California grocery workers on Monday reached an agreement with three major chain food outlets, including the Vons stores in Mammoth and Bishop.

The tentative contract agreement also included Albertsons, Ralphs and Pavillion stores.

Negotiations began in February to compose a collective bargaining agreement that would replace the workers' previous contract, which expired in March.

The workers will be asked to ratify the agreement, which includes protections of health care and pension benefits throughout the life of the contract.

Specifics on the new deal will be released to the workers preceding ratification votes at meetings of the United Food and Commercial Workers throughout the region.

"Thanks to the unity of our members, we were successful in bargaining an agreement that grocery workers can be proud of," the union negotiators said in a press statement.

"We have attained our most important goal, which was continuing to provide comprehensive health care to the members and their families.

"The grocery workers of Southern California stood together, strong and united, throughout this long and difficult process. They refused to accept anything less than a contract that protects their wages, benefits and working conditions. We are proud of them.

"We are also grateful to Scot Beckenbaugh, the mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and to all of our loyal customers who pledged their support for the workers."