The UFCW notified Vons, Albertsons and Ralphs late Thursday that it was giving 72 hours notice of termination of their current contract extension. By terminating the contract, the union also terminates the no-strike clause, opening the door for a walkout as soon as Sunday. This does not necessarily mean a strike will occur however, and it is still likely that the negotiations will be resolved without a strike.
The union is clearly trying to up the ante and force the companies to reveal their final position on the health benefits issue. There will undoubtedly be round-the-clock bargaining over the weekend, and if the grocery stores make any concessions, the union will likely hold off on calling a strike on the grounds that "progress is being made." If the companies don't budge, however, or make a last, best and final offer that is unacceptable to the union, the union may have no choice but to call a strike to save face and prove they weren't bluffing.