Grocery workers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike

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by JIM FORMAN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 10, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 11 at 9:04 AM

SEATTLE - Unionized workers from four major grocery chains in Western Washington showed their solidarity Tuesday night as they voted overwhelmingly - 94 percent -  to authorize a strike against the big four chains – Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Albertsons. But, a strike still is not a certainty.

“We’ve taken our cuts over the last few years,” said Safeway worker Matt Kenyon, “and to have cuts come at the bargaining table it is just not fair.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been negotiating with Allied Employers, whichis representing the chains.

“The message was clear with the membership that was here tonight. These are totally unacceptable offers that they are offering us right now,” said Fred Meyer worker Lynnette Larson.

The big four and their workers have been operating on a rolling one month contract extension. The current one expires next Monday, when a walkout could take place just in time for the holidays.

A spokesman for the management issued a statement:

“A strike authorization vote is not unusual,” wrote Scott K. Powers. "The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together. The employers are focused on reaching agreement on a fair contract that is in the best interests of their associates, customers and businesses.”

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