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Just days before stalled negotiations are to resume between the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Southern California's three major supermarket chains, the union is raising the ante by calling for a nationwide picketing of all Safeway stores.

The UFCW says that the picketing is a way of supporting the 70,000 employees who have been on strike against Safeway - and who have been locked out by Kroger's Ralphs division and Albertsons stores - in Southern California since October 11.

The UFCW, which represents some 1.4 million workers in the US, said it would ask consumers not to shop at Safeway stores, and that it could broaden the protests to include "acts of civil disobedience by supporting religious groups," according to a union spokesman.

The major issue, and the one which both sides say they are far apart on, is how health insurance costs will be paid. The union wants the chains to continue to pay for it, while the retailers want their employees to help defray the rising health care costs and help them cut their operating costs.

The last round of talks was suspended on December 7.
KC's View:
It actually is sort of interesting to watch from three thousand miles away and see how much of the union's animosity seems to be aimed at Safeway and its CEO, Steve Burd. Safeway clearly has been taking the toughest stand against the union, and organized labor is fighting fire with fire.

Which ought to make the soon-to-begin negotiations between the UFCW and Safeway's Dominicks division in Chicago high in entertainment value.