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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Local News
10/16/13

Grocery workers prepare for strike

SEATTLE — Grocery store workers in Seattle are busy preparing and prepping picket signs – the next step before a strike.

“The employers need to drastically change these proposals or we are going into a strike situation,” union representative Tom Geiger said. Geiger said the union and management are still far apart in their proposals. The sticking points remain health care, holiday pay, and wages.

On Wednesday, the two sides are holding their last scheduled meeting. If a deal isn’t reached, the union will likely issue a 72-hour notice to strike. That means as soon as this weekend, shoppers at QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway and Albertsons may have to decide whether to cross picket lines to buy their groceries or shop elsewhere.

The union and management could schedule further negotiations, but that seems unlikely at this juncture.

“I’d go straight into the grocery store,” Kevin, a Safeway shopper on Capitol Hill, said. “It doesn’t concern me at all. I gotta eat.

Other shoppers, like Kenji, said they would try to avoid picket lines even if it was an inconvenience.

“I would find a different store to shop at that does provide (workers) with benefits for their employees, because it’s what they deserve,” she said.

Geiger said the union is bolstered by the support of 1,000 grocery workers in Mason and Thurston counties that have vowed to join a strike, but he’s not sure that will help in the negotiations. It’s why employees are now working on the worst-case scenario, creating thousands of picket signs and preparing for a strike.

 

Local News
10/16/13

More grocery workers authorize strike

grocersSEATTLE — More area grocery store employees voted to join the battle for more pay and better benefits as workers in Thurston and Mason Counties voted to join a potential grocery strike Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, approximately 1,000 grocery store workers voted to authorize a strike during meetings in Olympia. More than 98 percent of workers from UFCW 367 voted to authorize a strike, officials said.

Union leadership says contract proposals from companies representing four major grocery store chains have been disrespectful’ as negotiations continue.

Contract talks between union leaders and grocer companies began back in March. Union leaders say the latest proposals included no pay raise for three years, major cuts to benefits and healthcare and slashing holiday pay.

Talks resume between the two groups today. If negotiations break down, then workers could go on strike at a number of QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertson’s store. Denise Jagielo, the president of UFCW 367, said employees play and benefits should match the money CEOs are raking in.

“The companies are doing well and the CEOs of these companies are being paid millions as they propose to cut the pay and benefits of their working class employees and that is not acceptable,” Jagielo said.

According to one union representative, crews will begin to assemble strike signs around noon Wednesday.

Union leaders must give grocery stores a 72 hour notice before walking out.

Grocery store workers vote to strikeTACOMA — A grocery store labor dispute continues in Western Washington as union leaders are still unhappy with pay and benefits proposed by several grocery store chains.

Union negotiators and company representatives met for several hours Thursday through Sunday as they tried to come to an agreement on a new contract.

Tens of thousands of union members voted to go on strike if a deal is not reached soon. Workers from QFC, Fred Meyer, Albertson’s and Safeway could announce a strike at any time giving the grocery companies 72 hours to come up with a new proposal.

Thousands of Boeing employees could also factor into the labor dispute, after unions representing Boeing workers issued a statement that they would honor an employee strike and take their money to other grocery stores.

Thurston and Mason County grocery stores workers will vote on whether or not to join in this dispute. Workers in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties are already involved.

The two sides plan to meet again on Wednesday, Oct 14.

SEATTLE — Grocery store employees across the Puget Sound are hoping to make headway in negotiations with local grocery store management.

Representatives from QFC, Safeway, Albertsons, and Fred Meyer companies are bargaining with unions Thursday and Friday. Grocery store employees with the UFCW and Teamsters unions hope to hammer out the details with employers over holiday pay, paid sick leave, salary and heath care.

grocersVoting members approved a strike authorization by 98 percent two weeks ago, and if talks between the unions and their employers stall, a strike could be looming.

If a deal isn’t reached this week, nearly 20,000 employees could walk off the job.

A representative for the workers said their patience is running thin. Their biggest sticking point is health insurance. QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertsons want employees to contribute more money toward their premiums, but the signs are clear that is not something the employees are willing to accept.

“These guys are making billions, their CEO’s are making millions, and they want to cut the pay of some of their lowest paid workers,” UFCW spokesman Tom Geiger said. “I just don’t think that’s right.”

Geiger is hopeful a deal can be reached, but he’s preparing for a strike.

“If we don’t see any movement over the next couple of days, we could be in a situation where we’d give a 72-hour notice sometime this weekend,” he said. “We could see a strike happening sometime next week.”

If the union does strike, the Teamsters have vowed to respect the picket lines, meaning that food shipments might not be able to get to the stores, whether or not replacement cashiers and stockers are hired. The last time there was a grocery workers strike in Seattle was in 1989.

 

grocery storeSEATTLE – Grocery store employees across the Puget Sound are hoping to make headway in negotiations with local grocery store management.

Representatives from QFC, Safeway, Albertsons, and Fred Meyer companies are bargaining with unions today and tomorrow.

Grocery store workers from the UFCW and Teamsters unions hope to hammer out the details with employers over holiday pay, paid sick leave, salary and heath care.

Voting members approved a strike authorization by 98 percent two weeks ago, and if talks between the unions and their employers stall, a strike could be looming.

Watch Q13 Fox News at 4 and 5 p.m. for more on this story.

Local News
09/26/13

‘We are ready and we will strike,’ grocery workers say

SEATTLE — It’s a sight no shopper wants to see: A picket line blocking the entrance to their favorite grocery store.

But it’s one step closer to happening after Thursday’s decision by more than 20,000 grocery checkers, baggers and other employees to authorize a strike in protest of the latest contract offer from their employers. What a strike means is that long lines and unstocked shelves could be a very real possibility at area grocery stores.

“I’ve watched Fred Meyer grow into a billion-dollar company, one of the richest in this country,” said Jessie Garoch, who has worked for Fred Meyer for 25 years. “Now, they want the tax payers to cover our health care and to cut our pay benefits.”

Health care is certainly a big issue. The grocers want to eliminate coverage for employees who work less than 30 hours a week. And there are also disagreements over holiday pay, paid sick leave and base salary.

More than 98 percent of union members voted to strike if their demands aren’t met.

The companies said they hope to avoid a work stoppage and Scott Powers, with Allied Employers Spokesman, said in a statement: “The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together.”

Four major grocery stores — QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertson’s — would be affected by a strike.

Some shoppers like Maurene Allenbach plan to avoid any picket lines and said, “I’d stock up ahead and hope for the best.”

But Matt O’Brien, a college student on a budget, said he has no choice. “Anything else is PCC or Whole Foods and that’s a little out of my range as a college student.”

The union has not announced a strike. Once a strike is announced, workers and employers have 72 hours of bargaining before workers walk out of stores.

PIERCE COUNTY — More than 20,000 grocery checkers, baggers and other employees voted to authorize a strike in protest of the latest contract offer from their employers, making long lines and un-stocked shelves a very real possibility at area grocery stores.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 in Tacoma was the last area union to vote to authorize an area-wide strike Thursday morning. More than 98 percent of union members voted to strike if demands such as continued health coverage and above minimum-wage pay aren’t met, union leaders said at a press conference Thursday.

The union has not yet announced a strike. Once a strike is announced, workers and employers have 72 hours of bargaining before workers walk out of stores.

Four major grocery stores — QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Albertson’s — would be effected in a strike.

Union members said they have been in contract negations with grocery store employers and Allied Employers, the company representing the business owners at the bargaining table, since March. Members say the latest contract proposal cuts healthcare for thousands of employees, reduces holiday pay, removes guarantees above minimum wage and freezes the lowest worker salaries.

grocery strike“We’ve been at this (negotiating) for about six months,” secretary-treasure of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 union Daniel Comeau said.

Scott Powers of Allied Employers  said an authorization vote on a strike is not unusual. It’s the next 72 hours following a strike decleration and the discussion that occurs that will make a big difference.

“The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together,” Powers said. “The employers are focused on reaching agreement on a fair contract that is in the best interests of their associates, customers and businesses.”

The union has set up a “Strike Alert Service,” giving shoppers the opportunity to receive a text once their local grocery store goes on strikes. Shoppers can also sign up for email alerts at standwithourcheckers.com.

Local News
09/25/13

Grocery workers take strike authorization vote; results Thursday

grocery1

Grocery workers who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 in Pierce County vote Wednesday whether to authorize a strike against Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertsons.

TACOMA — The last group of nearly 30,000 grocery workers in the Puget Sound area voted Wednesday whether to authorize a strike against Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertsons stores. The results will be announced at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Workers say they want better health care benefits, pay for holidays, pay for sick leave and a stop to salary cuts.

“We’ve been at this (negotiating for a contract) for about six months,” said Daniel Comeau, secretary-treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 union in Tacoma. “And so our members feel it is time to send a message and say, look, enough is enough, and we want to tell employers that their proposals are going to be rejected.”

Votes were cast by members of three unions — the UFCW Local 21 in Seattle, UFCW Local 367 in Pierce County, and Teamsters Local 38.

If a strike vote authorization is approved, there is a 72-hour requirement for a notice to the employers before a strike would begin.

 

 

 

 

Local News
09/20/13

Grocery workers ready to strike

grocery strikeSEATTLE — Union workers at area Safeway, QFC, Albertsons and Fred Meyer grocery stores announced they are ready to strike after failing to come to an agreement in contract negotiations that have been going on since March.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 said that after three days of bargaining, an unanimous vote was reached to recommend a strike authorization vote that will take place Sunday through Wednesday.

The union said that was is at issue is that employers will not provide health care coverage to employees working less than 30 hours a week, time-and-a-half pay for holidays is not offered, there is not a 10-cent above minimum wage guarantee and there is no wage increase in the contract.

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