‘We’re ready to strike,’ grocery workers say

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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.

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  • DB

    My wife has been a checker for 15 years they have been slowly lowering the super generous benefits that have been part of the grocery industry for decades. However the reason for this is that competition has steadily increased and profit has steadily shrunk. The problem is the union fails to see this and continues to demand unrealistic pay and benefits that will ultimately bleed the grocers dry and to the point they have to close their doors permenatly and instead of more options we will be left with fewer choices from places like Walmart. The union members would do better to vote the blood sucking union out and instead negotiate a deal with the stores that both the members and grocers can benefit from.

    • Anonymous

      Your comment is completely rediculous! “People making no money and would love a job”. Well then they can go look for one. I’m sorry that I work my hardest and don’t appreciate the company screwing me over. If YOU were part of it then you would feel the exact same way. And you can sit here and tell me a thousand times over that you wouldn’t. But when it happens to you and they try to take away your pay to support YOUR family then maybe you will understand. And the “illegals” from Mexico, those are the people taking away from our way of bringing our country out of debt. You can’t support trying to get other people trying to make money for themselves than bring up the illegals that work for nothing. It makes no sense. And you probably haven’t read the full contract and only know what the news tells you. There’s more to it than you know. So congratulations you have an opinion based on partial information. When you get the full story and this happens to your family we will see how happy you are.

    • Sharon

      Kroger just finished 39 months of straight profit growth, posted their highest annual profit, gave their CEO a 60% raise! and announced a 10% increase in stockholder dividends. It is erroneous that profits have shrunk. The only thing that had shrunk is our take home pay and benefits.

  • Chris

    There are plenty of people making NO MONEY and would love a job. These folks should be easily replaced and there should be no reason to have unstocked shelves or long lines. They support liberal policies thinking it won't effect them and then when it does they act surprised. We have a ton of illegals from Mexico that can and will do the job for practically nothing! Welcome to change!

  • Xuven

    I see the big wigs in the union on TV talking about how much money the CEO's make but you never that most union bosses make 200K and up.. The UFCW union boss make over $360,000 per year. And for your information most grocery stores make less than 3% – 4% profit and some operate on as little as 1% …. But then as far as most unions are concerned if the store make a penny in profit they want it. I have worked with people that thought the owners of the business put 100% of every dollar the business brought in directly in his pocket….This was about 5 years ago and this person thought that the government should just set wages at $10 per hour for every one no matter what you did you would make $10 per hour.

  • Anonymous

    The grocery stores are making no money? Last year I’m pretty Steve Byrd (CEO of Safeway) have himself like a 1.2 million dollar raise. Lol.

  • Willy

    The big stores could save money by hiring more security staff to keep the theft of hard liquor under control. They are losing tons of money as the booze walks out the door.

    Go Unions!

  • Block Watcher

    Management at most companies would love to lower the minimum wage to a dollar a day – it's the Republican dream! The GOP would do away with all benefits, work place safety laws and fire anyone that takes a potty break on company time. God Bless America!

  • just my opinion

    I work for Kroger owned Fry's Food & I have been with Fry's for 22 years. The recession in the past years have hurt our stores in the long run. We are slowly making our way past this recession. All we are asking here is to give us a good contract that is fair & reasonable, that helps both sides. Thankfully we did not have to strike here at Fry's. They started the negotiations early this last year. I just pray that the workers at Fred Meyers & QFC will not have to strike. We just want to keep what we have & maybe a little raise in contract for our hard work. We must stand united as 1 & fight for what we do have or we won't have anything left. We will end up like Walmart…low paid, not happy, working off clock & on welfare cuz we don't make enough. Walmart can treat their employees poorly because the employees don't have a leg to stand on. The Union is our leg & help give us a voice. Hang in there ya'll. I believe they will come to an agreement. Well take care & God bless you all!

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