New Talks Scheduled Friday; First Session in Two Weeks
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) _ The two sides in the 4 1/2 -week-old strike against California wineries are scheduled to hold their first negotiating session in two weeks Friday.
All but one of the 12 members of the Winery Employers Association have been struck, affecting producers of more than half the state’s wine.
A total of about 2,200 members of Locals 186 and 45 of the Winery, Distillery and Allied Workers Union are on strike.
The harvest of wine grapes from Bakersfield to Napa Valley is nearly finished, and the crushing of the grapes is more than half completed, according to the wineries.
Attorney Robert Lieber, the chief negotiator for the wineries, said he expects Friday’s negotiating session to be fruitless unless the union makes major concessions.
The union has rejected a management offer that included a wage freeze for part of the contract, a pay cut that the union claims would reduce truckers’ pay by $4,000 a year, a reduction in first-tier wages on top of a 50-cent-an- hour pay cut, and a slash in medical, pension and vacation benefits.
A 17-day strike in 1980 involved 23 wineries and nearly shut off the nation’s wine supply. Workers won a 28 percent wage increase over three years.
The latest move in the strike came Tuesday when 1,000 workers struck at E. & J. Gallo Winery.
Adding Gallo to the list of struck companies will prolong rather than hasten a settlement, Lieber said.
″This was the last round they had to fire, and they’ve shot themselves in the foot,″ said Lieber. ″When they realize that, we think they’ll come back to the table. We aren’t exactly unhappy about this.″
Robert Fogg, president of Local 186, said the union had little choice but to strike. He contended that wineries are ignoring a turn-around in industry sales during the first six months of 1986 in order to attack hard-won gains in workers’ benefits.