Grocery workers strike on the horizon

By Hawkeye Staff

Since March, 25,000 grocery store workers from unions UFCW 21, UFCW 81, and Teamsters 38 have been involved in a negotiation battle with big chain grocery stores, such as Safeway, Fred Meyers, QFC, and Albertsons.

Grocery workers are trying to bargain for changes made to their work career. Workers want better wages, quality and affordable health care, secure retirement, dependable work schedules, improved working conditions and paid sick days.

On Monday, grocery store workers from kKing, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties voted by 94 percent to reject the current contract proposal and announce a strike if it comes down to it. Given that, unions and workers have 72 hours to decide negotiations.

The cut off date for renegotiations is Friday. If employers and employees don’t come to an agreement, the strike may commence.

“[The strike] actually benefits our business. Because people want to contribute to stores that are union, stores that have the sweetheart contract,” David Knapp, assistant manager at Mountlake Terrace’s Rogers Market, said.

“We have a ‘sweetheart contract’ that prevents us from voting for the strike, but we still stay open during the strike because we’re a independent store. We’re part of the union, even though were not involved with the strike,” Knapp said.

According the UFCW 21 website, grocery businesses pay their CEOs millions of dollars each year, and recently with the 2010 mid-term elections, big chain grocery stores have contributed over $1 million to pass the liquor initiative while wanting to cut workers’ pay and benefits.

The last time in our area grocery workers decided to strike was 21 years ago and it lasted 81 days.