The Teamsters union stopped delivering goods to Southern California’s three major grocery store chains Monday in support of striking and locked-out workers.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America pulled 10,000 truck drivers and warehouse workers from their jobs in an effort to cut off supplies to Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons stores during Thanksgiving. Jim Santangelo, president of Teamsters Joint Council 42 in El Monte, told the Associated Press the move is a “silver bullet.”

“If this doesn’t end it, nothing will,” Santangelo said. “We will all be in this together.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) met with representatives from the supermarket chains and Peter Hurtgen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service from Nov. 10 to 11 and Nov. 22 to 23, but failed to reach an agreement. Hurtgen recessed negotiations Monday, but told the San Diego Union-Tribune the brief meetings were constructive and will resume when he determines it to be appropriate.

“It’s necessary again to give the parties time away from the table at this critical juncture,” Hurtgen said.

The supermarket chains said they have made contingency plans to keep stores stocked and open in order to handle Thanksgiving. Currently, temporary workers are driving delivery trucks for the grocery chains.

“The union has again demonstrated that it is focused on attempts to disrupt the process rather than addressing the real issues that would resolve this labor dispute,” the companies said in a joint release.

Grocery workers in Northern California Safeway stores, which are owned by Vons’ parent company, have joined the strike, and the UFCW has begun to picket Safeway stores in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

UFCW initially declared a strike against Southern California Vons stores Oct. 11. Albertsons and Ralphs, in alliance with Vons, responded by locking out their workers. On Oct. 31, UFCW stopped picketing at Ralphs, but the three chains had already made an agreement to share revenues in anticipation of such a strategy.
– Nexus staff report