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Grocery store workers to strike Monday evening unless contract settlement reached
Grocery store workers plan to strike at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at Fred Meyer, Safeway, QFC and Albertsons locations in the Puget Sound area unless a last-minute contract settlement is reached.
Union representatives gave a 72-hour strike notice to the grocery chains at 7 p.m. Friday. Negotiations continue. Shoppers will encounter pickets at stores if the workers go out on strike. Grocery stores have posted help wanted signs at stores to hire replacement workers.
"Our hope is that the employers will come to their senses and avoid a strike," said Tom Geiger, union spokesman for UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) 21.
Grocery workers in King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish counties gave a 98 percent approval in September to authorize a strike.
The primary issues for workers include essentially no wage increase for three more years, denial of paid sick days for all workers outside Seattle, increasing costs and reduced benefits in the health plan, cutting holiday pay when workers have to spend the day away from their families, increasing the amount of time it takes to get to the top rate of pay to over 10,000 hours and cutting the 10 cent above minimum wage guarantee for the lowest paid workers.
Employers did withdraw their attempt to cut workers off health care if they work fewer than 30 hours per week, Geiger said.
About 30,000 workers in King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish counties are represented by unions UFCW 21, UFCW 367 and Teamsters 38, whose bargaining teams recommended the strike vote.
Allied Employers is representing the grocery stores during negotiations.
"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," said Scott Powers, Allied vice president, in a statement last week.