Story Summary

Grocery workers potential strike

More than 20,000 gorcery checkers, baggers and other employees of QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertson’s have been negotiating a contract since March 2013. By mid-September, no agreement had been reached and on Sept. 26, the union announced that it was ready to strike. If the union decides to strike, it must notify the employer 72 hours in advance.

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This story has 9 updates
Local News
10/31/13

Unions officially ratify grocery contract

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A sign thanking grocery customers for support of the workers during the contract talks.

SEATTLE — It seemed like a foregone conclusion by last week, but on Thursday, grocery workers unions around Puget Sound ratified an employment contract.

According to Scott Klitzke Powers of the Allied Employers– the group representing Albertsons, QFC, Fred Meyer and Safeway — the grocery employee unions ratified the new contract by a high margin earlier this week.

The agreement means grocery workers in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason and Thurston counties approved the latest contract, previously a point of contention between grocery owners and workers.

SEATTLE — Grocery workers in the Puget Sound region will vote Tuesday and Wednesday on their tentative contract agreement reached with four major food chains just two hours short of a strike deadline on Monday night, a union spokesman announced Thursday.

Grocery strike updateThe results of the rank-and-file vote will be available Thursday, Oct. 31, said Tom Geiger, communications director of  Local 21 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

The tentative agreement with representatives of the Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Meyer food stores in the region was reached at 5 p.m. Monday.  A strike had been set to occur at 7 p.m. if an agreement had not been reached. The union negotiating team unanimously recommended the tentative agreement, but it must still be approved by the 21,000 workers.

“These meetings (next Tuesday and Wednesday) are for union grocery store members in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason and Thurston counties working at the big chain and independent stores,” Geiger said. “Members can come by at any time during the scheduled times to review the contract offer and get questions answered before casting their vote.”

All meetings are from: 8 AM – Noon & 4 PM – 8 PM unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, October 29

  • Bellevue (UFCW 21) Bellevue Hilton
  • Seattle (UFCW 21) Best Western Executive Inn (near Seattle Center)
  • Bremerton (UFCW 21) Kitsap Conference Center
  • Tacoma (UFCW 367)  Hotel Murano
  • Everett (Teamsters 38) Comcast Arena (7:30AM, 10:30 AM, 2:30 PM, 6:30 PM)

Wednesday, October 30

  • Sea Tac (UFCW 21) Doubletree (near Sea Tac airport)
  • Everett/Lynnwood (UFCW 21) Lynnwood Convention Center (Lynnwood)
  • Olympia (UFCW 21 & 367) Southsound Manor (Tumwater)

 

 

 

 

 

SEATTLE — For 21,000 grocery employees in the Puget Sound region there is no more anxiety about having to strike and go without pay.

A tentative contract deal has been reached.

strike“We’re glad not to have to go on strike.  Nobody wanted to go on strike, so we’re glad to have this agreement,” worker Sue Wilmot said.

“I feel great about not having to go on strike.  Like Sue said, none of us wanted to do that. It’s wonderful to be out here and to be able to go home,” worker Fran Sosbee said.

“What I hear is that the folks at the table all agree it’s a good deal, which is great for the workers,and it’s great for the citizens of Seattle and great for the grocery stores,” Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien said.

The deal was struck at 5 p.m. Monday, just two hours shy of the 7 p.m. strike deadline.

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Grocery workers celebrate the news of a tentative contract agreement late Monday at Westlake Center in Seattle.

The strike would have affected Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons and QFC stores in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston and Mason counties.

The sticking points included compensation, of course, but also holiday pay, vacation pay, hours worked and health care.

Employees and their union insisted they didn’t want to strike but had to stand firm.

Few expected that so many of their customers would stand with them.

“We just want to make sure we support the employees of these stores and so we won`t be coming back while the strike is on,” customer Shannon Bush said.

“I won’t be shopping at Safeway during the strike. I’ll go to Trader Joe’s,” customer Betty Sullivan said.

Loyalty, more to the employees than the companies, because it’s the workers they see every time they shop.

“I know the people who work there.  They’re always very friendly.  They’re hard working and I hate the fact that they have to go through this,” Bush said.

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A sign thanking grocery customers for support of the workers during the contract talks.

“I just want to thank all the customers who said, ‘We’re with you. We won’t cross the picket line. We want workers to do better.’ People deserve to have a better life. That’s what this is about.  This is a victory not just for grocery workers, it’s a victory for all workers,” United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 21 President Dave Schmitz said.

Everyone we spoke with believes the deal will be approved, but for now it is still a tentative agreement until members vote.

That could take some time to get all members in a position to cast a vote.

SEATTLE — Within only two hours of a strike deadline, a tentative contract agreement was announced Monday in the talks between the unions representing the Puget Sound region’s grocery workers and four major food store chains.

“We are very pleased to announce that today at 5 p.m. the union member bargaining team from UFCW (United Food Commercial Workers union Locals) 21 & 367 and Teamsters 38 reached a tentative agreement with the national grocery chains in contract negotiations,” Tom Geiger of the UFCW Local 21 said. “This tentative agreement has been unanimously recommended by the union member bargaining team.

“Details will not to be released until after union members themselves have had the opportunity to review the tentative agreement and vote on it. The times and locations of those vote meetings will be announced in the coming days after arrangements have been made to schedule the votes.

Grocery strike updateThe unions represented 21,000 grocery workers at Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Meyer stores in the region.

A strike had been set to start at 7 p.m. Monday if a contract agreement had not been reached.

GROCERYSEATTLE — As the clock continues to countdown on the impending grocery store strike, thousands of shoppers in Western Washington say they will choose to honor the picket lines and take their shopping dollars elsewhere.

This looming grocery store strike will affect Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertson’s and QFC stores. Over 21,000 workers in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston and Mason counties have joined together in the labor dispute.

There are a number of grocery store locations that shoppers can use as alternatives to the striking grocers. Some stores in Seattle include:

  • Central Co-Op (Capitol Hill)
  • Don & Joe’s Market (Downtown)
  • Metropolitan Market (Queen Anne)
  • A & J Meats (Queen Anne)
  • PCC (Fremont)
  • Uwaqjimaya (International District)

For a complete list of stores with workers who will not head to the picket lines, visit StandWithOurCheckers.com.

The Strike was slated to begin at 7 p.m. Monday night. The last grocery strike in the Seattle area was in 1989 and last 81 days.

Local News
10/20/13

The clock is ticking for grocery workers to strike

GROCERYSEATTLE — Grocery store workers and employers have until 7 p.m. Monday to hammer out a deal or thousands of workers will go on strike.

Twenty-one thousand workers could hit the picket lines Monday, impacting customers at local QFC, Albertsons, Safeway and Fred Meyer stores.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and challenger Ed Murray support the grocery workers. They said at a rally Sunday night at Westlake Park in Seattle that they will not cross the picket lines.

The latest proposal would eliminate health insurance for part-time workers, halt wage increases over the next three years and diminish holiday pay.

SEATTLE — The clock is ticking down to a grocery workers strike that could have a big impact on consumers. UFCW21 issued its 72-hour notice to strike at 7p.m. Friday, and by Saturday night, the union said the two sides were still at odds.

“This is a serious time,” union spokesman Tom Geiger said.

Grocery workers are working around the clock gearing up to walk off the job, something that hasn’t happened since 1989.

About 21,000 grocery workers across Western Washington hope a deal will be made before they are forced to strike on Monday.

“There are a lot of people working at grocery stores that don’t get paid enough for their work and don’t get enough hours,” Geiger said.

The union said the current proposal could mean part-time workers would lose their health insurance, there would be no wage increase over the next three years and holiday pay could be diminished.

“In this day and age I know how much executive salaries are going up and it just doesn’t seem right to me,” shopper Stephanie Ducharme said.

QFC, Albertsons, Safeway and Fred Meyer are the companies at the bargaining table.

Ducharme said she supports the workers. “This is going to have a huge ripple effect,” she said.

Ducharme stocked up on groceries at Fred Meyer Saturday because she does not want to cross a picket line.

Others had no sympathy for the grocery workers.

Grocery strike update“There are so many people looking for a job, and now they want more and more — work things out instead of you know putting us into it,” shopper Marlene Gonzales said.

“We stand together,” Geiger said.

Workers have made picket signs, a makeshift clock and held a food drive for families.

The counties impacted are King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Mason and Kitsap. Thousands of warehouse workers and truck drivers will also be given the choice to honor the picket line so that could be another big problem.

A spokesperson for the grocery stores said they are focused on giving workers a “solid compensation package of pay and benefits.”

SEATTLE — Unions representing about 21,000 grocery workers in the Puget Sound region gave official notice Friday night that they will strike four major chains — Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Meyer — in 72 hours if a new contract agreement is not reached beforehand.

Under that timetable, employees will walk off the job at 7 p.m. Monday.

Grocery workers strike negotiationsTom Geiger, who represents Local 21 of United Food and Commercial Workers, made the announcement to the media at 7:15 p.m. Friday. He said the notice to the grocery stores was effective at 7 p.m. The unions involved include the UFCW Local 21 and Local 367 and Teamsters Local 38.

Geiger said the companies’ proposals for a new three-year contract have sought to freeze pay, reduce holiday pay and other benefits.

“We do not want a strike,” Geiger said at a news conference. “Hopefully tonight we will see a turnaround (in the companies’ negotiating stance) and in the next 72 hours, serious bargaining will take place.”

If not, workers will picket the four major grocery store chains in King, Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap and Snohomish counties.

In addition, the Teamsters union, whose truckers deliver much of the products to the stores, said they will honor the grocery workers’ picket lines. Meanwhile, the stores have been taking online applications for replacement workers.

“Tonight the unions gave us 72 hours notice of their intent to terminate the involved labor agreements,” said Scott Powers, a spokesman for Allied Employers, which represents the four major grocery chains. “This does not change the fact that the only way to work through the remaining issues is at the bargaining table.  These companies remain focused and committed to reach an agreement that is good for our associates, providing them a solid compensation package of pay and benefits; and good for the companies, too, so they can be competitive and continue to provide good, stable jobs.  We remain focused on those important objectives.”

Last month, 98 percent of union members voted to authorize a strike. Their contracts expired in May. Since then, the union and grocery chains have been battling over a new three-year contract.

The companies’ proposal would reduce holiday pay, hold wages at current rates and have part-time workers get health benefits through Obamacare.

The last grocery workers strike in the Puget Sound area, in 1989, lasted 81 days, Geiger said.

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