The parking lot at Raley's in Petaluma was noticeably emptier Sunday morning as union grocery workers formed a picket line outside Raleys in Petaluma.

The workers joined thousands of other union workers who walked off their jobs at Raley's supermarkets this morning, citing management's implementation of takeaways and what the union considers unfair labor practices.

Following days of intense negotiations in the presence of Federal Mediator Greg Lim, leaders of UFCW 8-Golden State and UFCW Local 5 announced a strike was in effect at Raley's, Nob Hill and, in all likelihood, Bel Air stores in Northern and Central California. The labor dispute involves approximately 7,000 union members.

The workers set up picket lines in front of stores Sunday morning and were asking shoppers to take their business to Safeway, Save Mart, Rite Aid and other union retailers. Many shoppers at the Petaluma store, honked, waved and drove away, while others ignored the picket signs to shop.

The strike coincides with Raley's imposition of many of its "last, best and final" contract proposals without the input or approval of its union employees. Among other things, the proposals include permanent elimination of some wage premiums for working at night and on Sundays and holidays, and establishment of two distinct classes of workers — those hired after the next contract is ratified and those hired before.

Other terms proposed by the company include elimination of retiree health care and inadequate funding of health care for active workers.