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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 10, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 50
Grocery workers ratify new contract - Threat of strike averted
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Grocery workers ratify new contract - Threat of strike averted

Courtesy of Pride At Work

Seattle-area grocery workers ratified a new contract this month, ending the threat of a grocery strike during the holidays.

UFCW 21, representing most grocery store workers, and UFCW 81, representing meat cutters, ratified the contract with a 95% Yes vote in a series of meetings between December 1 and December 3.

Teamsters 38, which represents some grocery workers in the Everett area, also ratified the new contract with a 95% Yes vote on December 1.

The tentative agreement with the big three grocery chains - Safeway, Kroger (which owns QFC and Fred Meyers), and SuperValu (which owns Albertsons) - was negotiated just before Thanksgiving.

Workers had been working under temporary contract extensions since March.

UFCW 21 is the largest private-sector union in the state with 36,000 members, of whom some 20,000 work in the retail grocery industry.

UFCW offers its members domestic partner benefits equal to those available to married spouses.

The union also put significant resources into the Approve Referendum 71 campaign.

Union spokespeople say their members are satisfied with the final contract. In particular, the union successfully defended its healthcare plan and its defined benefits pension. Employer proposals to cut wages for some categories of workers were defeated.

UFCW credited community support for much of their success.

The grocery store workers' many months of negotiations were bolstered by strong support from dozens of labor unions and community organizations across the region, UFCW 21 communications director Tom Geiger said in a statement.

Additionally, the daily show of support by customers as the potential for a looming strike approached was an important factor for workers.

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