SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers should exercise caution in areas covered by grocery strikes

| 10/14/2003

Truckers who deliver to grocery stores should take care if they are headed toward St. Louis, Southern California and other areas where workers at the stores have gone on strike.

In Southern California, more than 800 stores operated by Vons, Ralph’s, Pavilions and Albertsons – roughly 60 percent of all groceries in the southern half of the state – are the target of a strike by 70,000 workers, media outlets reported. The strike, which centers on health benefits, started Sunday, Oct. 12.

In the St. Louis area, strikers have targeted more than 90 stores operated under the Schnuck’s, Dierberg’s and Shop & Save banners, local media outlets reported. According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the strike started when more than 10,000 grocery workers who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 655 struck one of the stores, Shop & Save. In response, that company and the other two chains locked out union workers.

The St. Louis strikers have been joined by workers in other unions, including auto workers, who are showing their support. That strike entered its sixth day Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Workers in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky have also joined the spreading strikes. Roughly 3,000 of them voted Oct. 13 to go on strike against Kroger Co., the parent of California strike target Ralph’s, after rejecting a contract offer, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said truckers should keep informed and not expect that they will receive any warning that they are going into a strike area when they take a load.

“Don’t count on a broker or anyone else to tell you,” he said.