By Polly Keary, Editor
Workers at three Monroe grocery stores could strike as soon as Oct. 14, following a union vote Friday to authorize grocery workers to walk out if a labor agreement can’t be reached soon.
Members of Teamsters Local 38 and UFCW Local 21, which represent workers at Western Washington Safeway, Albertson’s and Fred Meyer stores as well as area QFC stores, last week voted 98 percent in favor of striking if they don’t get concessions in the new contract the employers have offered.
Negotiations have been ongoing since March, but have stalled over issues to do with health benefits and sick pay.
The stores have proposed to cut health benefits to people who work 30 hours or less, and that is a considerable percentage of the work force, the Teamsters have said.
And workers are asking for sick pay for all workers, as well as protesting a proposal to replace time-and-a-half with a dollar-an-hour increase for holidays.
Workers held informational pickets twice, including once a little less than a month ago, but now they are ready to walk out, said Tom Geiger, Communications Director of UFCW 21.
Since the results of the vote were announced Thursday, the employers have agreed to come to the table again Oct. 10 and 11. The workers hope for “a serious set of proposals,” said Geiger.
There will be no strike until then, but after the 11th, the option will be open.
The union has to give 72-hour notice of a strike to workers, meaning workers could walk out as early as Oct. 14.