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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 12, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 46
Where do I shop if the grocery workers go on strike?
Section One
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Where do I shop if the grocery workers go on strike?

Courtesy of Pride At Work Grocery workers at the biggest chain stores in the Puget Sound area have voted to reject their employers' latest contract offer and authorize a strike.

The vote was a whopping 94% in favor of strike authorization.

This vote comes after nine months of negotiations and more than 20 meetings between management and the unions representing grocery workers - United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 21, UFCW 81 (meat cutters), and Teamsters 38 (which represents some retail clerks in the Everett area).

The affected chains are Safeway, Supervalu, which owns Albertsons, and Kroger, which owns both QFC and Fred Meyer.

These out-of-state-based chains are among the Top 50 corporations in the country.

They paid their CEOs a combined 30 millions dollars last year. The grocery industry has not been hit as hard by the economy as many other sectors because families have switched to shopping at the store more and eating out at restaurants less.

They still have not come to an agreement with workers on wages, healthcare costs, and pensions.

When does the strike start?
The vote does not mean that strikes will begin immediately, however.

Both workers and employers have agreed to a temporary contract extension through November 15. After that extension expires, either side can terminate the contract with 72 hours notice.

That means that work stoppages could begin as early as November 18 unless the parties come to some agreement.

After November 18, the unions may strike some or all of the affected stores.

Why should I care?
UFCW 21 is the state's largest private sector union with over 36,000 workers in grocery store, retail, health care, and other industry jobs.

It represents a large concentration of LGBT workers, and has been a leader in fighting for equal rights for its LGBT members. LGBT grocery workers are entitled to domestic partner benefits equal to those offered to married spouses, for example.

UFCW 21 also put huge resources into the campaign to Approve Referendum 71 - including paid staff time dedicated to the campaign, and the union's state-of-the-art phone bank facility.

A good way to say thanks would be to refuse to cross a union picket line if you see one at the store where you usually shop.

Where do I buy food?
There are many union grocery stores that are not affected by the current round of contract negotiations. Among them are:

o Central Coop's Madison Market

o PCC (Puget Consumers Coop) Natural Markets

o Metropolitan Markets

o Red Apple

o West Seattle Thriftway

o Vashon Thriftway

o KC Foods Thriftway

o Lakemont Thriftway

o Cost Cutters / The Markets

o Haggen / Top Food & Drug

o Roger's Market Place o Rose & Associates o Saar's Market Place o Sand Point Pharmacy o Tukwila Trading Company o Sunset Markets o Swain's General Store o Town & Country / Central Market You can shop at any of these stores and be confident that you are supporting a union workforce that supports LGBT rights. Pride At Work is the LGBT labor organization. We are affiliated with the AFL-CIO, but we include members of Change To Win and independent unions, and allies. Pride At Work's Martin Luther King County chapter can be reached at 206-261-8110 or OutFront.PrideAtWork@gmail.com.

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