LA Grocery Store Strike Forces CUs To Walk Fine Line

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Credit unions in this market with branches inside grocery stores are discovering one of the realities of such retail facilities-they are sometimes forced to deal with labor issues that don't relate to them.

Wescom Credit Union, which has four branches in Albertsons grocery stores in the greater-Los Angeles area, is keeping those branches open even though employees at the stores have gone on strike and members must cross pickets to conduct business.

The CU emphasized it is not aligned with either side in the dispute, stating that it is "politically neutral."

Approximately 70,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Southern California have been on strike or locked out of three chains-Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons - since Oct. 11. Of Wescom's 25 branches, four are in Albertsons stores.

In a prepared statement, the CU said: "Wescom Credit Union will remain open to serve our members at our four Albertsons in-store branch locations in Chino Hills, Glendora, San Pedro and Westminster, Calif., during the strike of Albertsons employees."

"Wescom Credit Union is not associated with Albertsons or the union; we are tenants of Albertsons," the statement continued. "We respect the right of unions and its members to engage in collective bargaining, including the option of striking. By remaining open to serve our members, this does not mean we are supporting Albertsons management. We are politically neutral on the issue."

Wescom, a $2.4-billion CU that has more than 200,000 members in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties, said there are alternate branches and ATMs nearby to all four in-store branches for members who do not wish to cross the picket lines.

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