Union grocery workers at local stores authorize strike
November 11, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 11, 2010
Union workers at major grocery chains in Issaquah and the Puget Sound region voted Wednesday to authorize a strike, but no walkout is imminent as stores prepare for the start of the holiday shopping season.
The union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, represents workers about 25,000 workers at Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway across the region. The vote also affects grocery and meat workers in Mason County and meat workers in Pierce and Thurston counties.
Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway operate stores in Issaquah.
The union and Allied Employers, the labor relations firm representing the grocery chains, reached a stalemate in October after months of negotiations about pay, health benefits and pensions.
Though 94 percent of union members voted to reject a contract offer from the grocers and authorize a strike, a contract extension should keep workers on the job until Monday. Since workers’ contracts expired months ago, grocery employees have remained on the job under one-month contract extensions.
Allied Employers Vice President Scott Klitzke Powers issued a statement after the strike-authorization vote.
“A strike authorization vote is not unusual,” he said. “The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together.”