Ralphs will temporarily close all of its Southern California stores if grocery workers go on strike, and Albertsons will shut down 100 markets, company officials said Friday.
Citing the difficulty of creating "a good shopping experience for our customers and a good working environment for our employees" during a walkout, Ralphs spokeswoman Kendra Doyel said the chain would initially close every store. The company would then reopen markets on a case-by-case basis, she told ABC.
Albertsons announced similar plans. "One of the lessons we learned during the 2003-2004 labor dispute is that it doesn't make good business sense to try to operate all our stores during a strike,'' the company said in a statement.
Officials with Vons said its stores would remain open in a strike.
Under action taken by the United Food and Commercial Workers union Thursday, .
A 141-day strike in 2003-04 cost the stores an estimated $1.5 billion, and led some customers to make long-term changes to their shopping habits by going to independent grocers and specialty outlets. Both sides agreed they were hurt by the walkout.
Unionized grocery employees at stores from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border have been working without a contract since March 6.
Under the most recent management offer, workers would pay about $36 per month for individual health insurance, or $92 per month for family coverage. Union officials argue the insurance fund would not be financially viable and want the supermarkets to contribute more.
No tentative agreement on wages has been reached.