Grocery workers union reach agreement with Giant and Safeway

Proposal will be presented to members Dec. 17 for vote

December 11, 2013|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

Union leaders representing 28,000 Giant Food and Safeway workers reached a tentative agreement with both supermarket chains on a new labor contract, which will be presented to members Dec. 17 for a vote.

A collective bargaining agreement for Local 400 and Local 27 of the United Food & Commercial Workers would take effect immediately if approved, union leaders said. The impact of health reform on workers' health coverage had been the biggest sticking point in negotiations, union leaders have said.

"The tremendous solidarity and dedication of our members was absolutely essential in reaching this tentative agreement," said Mark P. Federici, president of Local 400, which represents Washington area Giant and Safeway workers, in the announcement. "Our employers recognized that their workers were ready to do whatever it takes to achieve a fair contract and that they had the support of the community. This is what made it possible to overcome the enormous hurdles before us at the bargaining table."

Tim Goins, executive vice president of Local 27, which represents Baltimore area workers, said he could not disclose details of the tentative agreement.

Local 400 and Local 27 have been in joint negotiations with both supermarket chains since early September. The contract expired Oct. 31 and has been extended twice, most recently through Dec. 20.

Giant's Local 27 workers are scheduled to vote at 8 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Maryland State Fair fairgrounds in Timonium, with Safeway workers to vote at 11:30 a.m., also at the fairgrounds. Giant's Local 400 workers are scheduled to vote at 8 a.m. at the D.C. Armory, with Safeway workers to vote at 2 p.m. at the same location.

Workers for the area's two biggest grocers had voted Nov. 13 to authorize a strike against the supermarket chains, saying management had refused to offer a fair contract. The union said it was hoping to send a signal to the companies.

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