The grocery union bargaining team reported last night that talks were extended and will continue on Saturday, October 12th. They said the grocery store chains removed the contract proposal that took health care benefits away from employees working less than 30 hours/week, but commented that “the result of their new health care proposal still would be cuts in benefits and higher costs.” The bargaining team said several other “unacceptable proposals” were also removed during the talks, but that many others still remain. The union is required to give stores 3-days notice before striking.
Update: 10/11/2013, 11:15AM:
The Grocery Bargaining Union Facebook page update on Thursday, 10/10/2013, stated they are still negotiating and had made some progress, but there were still “unacceptable proposed cuts to pay and benefits” that need to be addressed. The union said it will continue to negotiate Friday, October 11th, and “hope for a significant breakthrough in order to achieve a fair settlement.”
In the meantime, the grocery workers’ union is moving ahead with strike preparations, saying in the last 24 hours they had 10,000 picket sticks and signs delivered to strike headquarters.
Grocery workers’ unions began airing radio commercials this week, urging Safeway, Alberstons, QFC and Fred Meyer to offer workers a fair contract.
About 30,000 grocery workers were set to strike on September 29th, but a walkout was avoided when the grocery store chains agreed to return to contract negotiations on October 10th and 11th.
At issue is pay and a proposed reduction in health care benefits. In a previous contract offer, employers proposed employees not working 30 hours a week be given subsidies and purchase their health care through the Affordable Health Care Act Health Insurance Exchange.
Currently employees receive health care benefits through the grocery store chains and workers say they cannot afford to pay for their own health care.
The grocery workers’ union has been busy organizing picket locations and picket shifts sign ups since the new contract talks were announced on September 27th.
According to the Union Grocery Bargaining Facebook page, workers are still preparing to strike if the next two days of negotiations don’t materialize a “serious” proposal that respects workers “hard work and loyalty.”
The union has to give grocery stores 72-hours notice before workers can begin striking.
In the Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah areas, the Snoqualmie Ridge IGA, Fall City Market, Red Apple Market, Trader Joe’s and Costco would all be shopping alternatives for shoppers not wishing to cross potential picket lines.
The last grocery store strike was 1989 and lasted 81 days.