FAIRFIELD — Union representative Pete Derenale came to the Travis Boulevard Raley’s at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to shake hands with picketing workers and tell them the nine-day strike had ended.
“They’ll be getting back to work today,” said Derenale, who is with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.
Raley’s and two unions announced that morning that a tentative agreement had been reached after 15 months of bargaining. The unions involved – UFCW Local 5 and UFCW 8-Golden State – decided to immediately stop the strike that began Nov. 4.
“It’s great being back,” Raley’s worker Jonathan Clark said as he prepared to leave the picket line. “I hope we don’t have to do this again in another five years. I’m really happy all of us got to bond together and to go against the corporation for what we believed in.”
Worker David Childress said he worked his way up from bagging groceries in 2006 to working in produce today.
“I’m glad, so glad to get back and see our regular customers who know us and supported us through this entire thing,” Childress said.
A woman drove through the parking lot, stuck her head out the car window and asked if the strike had ended. Derenale told her it had.
“So I can shop?” she said.
Derenale told her “yes.”
Tony Boucher stood on the two-person picket line at the Raley’s on North Texas Street in Fairfield. He was waiting just before 9:30 a.m. to get official word from the union that the strike had ended. He had only heard rumors at that point.
“I was ready from day one for it to be over,” Boucher said. “I actually didn’t think it was going to happen. First strike in Raley’s history.”
A Raley’s press release said details of the agreement will not be made public until the unions ratify the tentative deal. But the contract will provide the store with the cost savings needed to fund its visions and initiatives to be more competitive in the 21st century, it said.
A union press release, while not giving details, said Raley’s agreed to retain and fund the union’s health benefit plan, as is the case with Safeway and Save Mart. The tentative agreement addresses Raley’s competitive concerns while protecting union membership in a challenging time, it said.
“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,” Raley’s President Mike Teel said in a press release. “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.”
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.