Grocery workers authorize strike at Western Washington stores in 4 counties

Grocery workers in four counties in Western Washington gave a 98 percent approval to authorize a strike against Fred Meyer, Safeway, QFC and Albertsons stores.

Dave Schmitz, president of UFCW 21, announced the vote results Thursday morning. Workers in King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce counties voted over the last several days about whether to authorize a strike.

Bargaining talks will resume on Oct. 10 and 11, said UFCW 21 spokesman Tom Geiger on Friday.

"Our expectation is that they will come with a set of serious proposals," Geiger said in an email.

Before any strike, the union must give 72-hours notice to employers.

Management is still proposing a contract that would cut pay (including holiday pay) and cut benefits (including elimination of health care coverage for those working less than 30 hours a week), according to UFCW 21. About 30,000 workers are represented by three unions UFCW 21, UFCW 367 and Teamsters 38, whose bargaining teams recommended the strike vote.

Scott Powers, the lead negotiator for Allied Employers, which represents Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway, said in an email Thursday he expected talks to resume.

Scott Powers, the lead negotiator for Kirkland-based Allied Employers, which represents Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway, said in an email Thursday he expects to be at the bargaining table soon.

"A strike authorization vote is not unusual," Powers said. "The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together. The employers are focused on reaching agreement on a fair contract that is in the best interests of their associates, customers and businesses."

Grocery store workers have been in contract negotiations since March.

“We hope the employers come to their senses and make a fair proposal that respects me and my co-workers and our families," said Jessica Roach, a Fred Meyer worker, at a Thursday press conference at UFCW 21 headquarters in Seattle. "But if they force us to strike, we are ready."


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