Strike Threat Still Possible for One Grocer as Another Moves Closer to Approved Contract

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Two grocery chains in Washington are seeing different results in their negotiations with unions who have warned of strike action unless new contracts are approved.

Teamsters contracts for distribution workers with Safeway and Fred Meyer are set to expire this weekend. This week Teamsters Local 174 and 117 both issued statements warning of possible strikes and supply disruptions if agreements were not reached.

Friday morning, Jamie Fleming, media representative for Teamsters Local 174, told The News Tribune via email, "We reached a fully recommended tentative agreement with Safeway late last night, and the members will be voting on it tomorrow morning."

Further details would be available after the meeting, Fleming wrote.

Meanwhile, representatives for Teamsters Local 117 on Friday said they still are seeking an agreement with Fred Meyer and are planning to take a strike authorization vote Saturday among approximately 500 Teamster warehouse workers.

"We are happy to see that Safeway put forth a fair contract proposal that our members will be voting on this weekend," Local 117 secretary-treasurer John Scearcy said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Fred Meyer has yet to demonstrate the same recognition of the indispensable contributions these essential workers have made for all of us."

Teamsters Local 117 represents roughly 500 warehouse workers with Fred Meyer, servicing 180 stores in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho, and 470 warehouse workers at Safeway servicing 202 stores in Washington and Alaska.

The union was in the news last year after a series of outbreaks affected its workers at the Fred Meyer Distribution Center in Puyallup.

Teamsters Local 174 represents approximately 150-175 Safeway drivers who deliver groceries from Safeway's Auburn distribution center to Safeway/Albertsons stores, all warehouse workers in the Auburn, Bellevue and Kent Distribution Centers, dispatchers, and Recycling Center workers.

On Thursday, Fred Meyer, in a statement to The News Tribune, said: "The companies' goal is a fair and balanced contract that honors associates and keeps the company competitive. We don't currently anticipate any disruption in service to our stores."

Sara Osborne, media representative for Safeway, told The News Tribune via email on Thursday that "as with all our collective bargained agreements, we are committed to reaching a fair agreement that properly rewards our outstanding employees."

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