SACRAMENTO -- The strike at Raley's entered its third day Tuesday, with neither side appearing ready to budge.
Raley's spokesman John Segale said operations were improving and sales are "coming back to normal levels." He added, "We're continuing to find more people crossing the picket line."
The United Food and Commercial Workers, however, said workers and customers alike are staying loyal to the union, with most shoppers doing business at other stores to the exclusion of Raley's.
"Our picket captains are reporting that the lines are getting stronger throughout the area," said Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW Local 8 in Roseville, in a message e-mailed to The Sacramento Bee. "Volunteers from other unions are supporting the picket lines."
At the Raley's store at Floyd and Roselle avenues in Modesto on Tuesday afternoon, a dozen pickets stood outside, offering fliers to customers, most of whom walked past them into the store.
Vicki Robinson, a union representative and 27-year Raley's employee, estimated that at least half of the employees at that store and the one at Tully Road at Standiford Avenue had crossed picket lines to continue working.
She wouldn't estimate how long the picketing will continue but said the fight will get stronger and "we're in it for the long haul."
Raley's wouldn't provide details on sales or customer volume. But Burt Flickinger III, a retail industry consultant from New York, said the West Sacramento-based grocery chain likely is losing a good deal of business.
Flickinger, head of Strategic Resource Group, said other grocers are sure to reap the benefit of the Raley's strike. "Raley's can lose millions," he said.
Competing stores clearly saw extra shoppers Sunday, the first day of the strike and one of the busiest shopping days of the week.
Safeway Inc. and Save Mart Supermarkets, the other two unionized grocers in Northern California, declined to say whether their sales have improved. Officials from other competitors couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
Segale said Raley's has been taking applications from potential replacement workers, "but no replacements have been hired."
Workers walked off the job at Raley's and Nob Hill Foods early Sunday. Despite the picket lines, the company says every one of its stores has stayed open.
Raley's has been pressing for wage and benefit concessions for more than a year. The biggest sticking point between the two sides is Raley's proposed changes to the workers' health insurance.
Modesto Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra contributed to this report.