SEATTLE — About 30,000 grocery workers in the area could be on the verge of walking off the job, and they are hoping consumers will support their cause.
A spokesperson for the grocery stores says negotiations are expected to continue Thursday.
Angel Shields says she makes $9.29 an hour at the Capitol Hill Safeway.
“We are actually struggling just to make it to the next day,” Shields said.
Even though she works at a grocery store, she says putting food on the table for her son is a daily challenge.
“Hopefully we keep our health care plan the same way that is now, that would be easier for everybody,” said Shields.
Her biggest concern is over a proposal that would minimize health care for employees working less than 30 hours a week.
Holiday pay could also be reduced with no promise of a wage increase for the next three years.
“I might as well work in a sweatshop,” said Safeway employee De Von Anderson.
That frustration has about 30,000 grocery workers prepared to strike.
Customers will have to decide whether to cross picket lines at Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Safeway if a deal is not reached.
The grocery chains are already in the process of hiring temporary workers.
“I don’t want customers to shop because I don’t want them to support what Safeway is trying to do to us,” said Shields.
One customer says a strike would keep him away for a few days but he believes many others will not change their shopping habits.
“If your low-income or on a fixed budget, you are going to cross the picket line if that is the cheaper thing you can do,” said customer Dana Tade.
Either way, workers are stocking more than food. Thousands of signs are on standby, ready for action if the union gives its 72-hour notice of a strike.
“I’m giving 100%, no complaints. But you are going to cut my pay, take my medical away from me, what’s the use of working here?” said Anderson.
Employees say if a strike happens, customer service will suffer because they believe temporary workers will not perform the duties as well as they can.