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Nob Hill, workers reach agreement

Modified: Wednesday, Nov 14th, 2012

Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian file Workers from Nob Hill Foods stage a strike Nov. 5 in Watsonville. Workers have now freached an agreement with the company.

WATSONVILLE — The strike by employees of Raley’s Family of Fine Stores and the United Food and Commercial Workers ended Tuesday, with representatives from both sides reaching an agreement.

The agreement ends 15 months of negotiations between the two sides. 

“I feel relieved,” said clerk Doreen Martinez. “The parking lot is full because we have the customers’ support, 100 percent.

Martinez said she received hugs from several customers as she worked the early shift Wednesday.

“They said, ‘we’re so glad you’re back,’” she said. “And that’s all we want. Our customers have been with us for so long and we want to keep them.”

Martinez declined to comment on the terms of the new contract, but suggested that employees got the health care concessions they were seeking.

“The main thing we were fighting for was healthcare and we got it,” she said.

Raley’s of Family Fine Stores president Mike Teel said the agreement will also enable the company to implement cost savings measures.

“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,” he said. “As one of the last large family-owned grocery chains, it will be great to have everyone back working again.” 

  The Union will recommend ratification to its members with a vote to occur at a date to be decided in the near future.  The agreement will also be shared with the union members working at Bel Air, a grocery store chain owned by Raley’s, which was not part of the strike.

  This dispute marked the first strike in the history of the 77-year old company.

The union called the strike Nov. 5 after Raley’s / Nob Hill Foods implemented cost-cutting measures in employee contracts. Company officials pointed to an increase of more than 240 non-union retailers either opening or expanding their stores specifically to sell groceries.  This, coupled with the recession and skyrocketing health care costs, created a number of issues, which both the store and the union had to work through.

  “It is important to remember that everyone including our employees, our customers, our company and the communities we serve have suffered in this labor dispute,” Teel said. “So, it gives me great pleasure to know that as of today our employees will be back to work serving our customers with the same attention and care as we have always served our customers at Raley’s and Nob Hill.”

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