Workers at three major Southern California grocery chains are set to vote on strike action following the collapse yesterday (21 June) of contract talks with management.

Workers at Safeway's Vons and Pavilions chains and at Kroger's Ralphs stores will vote on Sunday whether to take strike action.

Union spokesman Mike Shimpock said the retailers had failed to table an acceptable contract proposal by a deadline set by the union a fortnight ago.

"We'd given the employers two weeks to finish a deal and to give us a comprehensive offer that our members could vote on, on Sunday, up or down," Shimpock was quoted as saying. "The employers failed to do that."

Adena Tessler, speaking on behalf of the grocery chains concerned, said they had expected the union's move after it had set what they called an "artificial and arbitrary deadline".