Teamsters from across our region’s grocery industry joined forces over the weekend for the first-ever Grocery Workers’ Summit to strategize and prepare for upcoming contract negotiations set to begin early this summer.
Contracts are open this year for over 1000 Teamsters at four major grocery houses – Fred Meyer, Safeway, SuperValu, and Unified Grocers.
The Summit was a powerful display of Union solidarity, with Teamsters and their families from Locals 38, 117, 174, 252, 313, and 690 in attendance, along with Union members and allies from a variety of other industries, including the bakery, food service, and aerospace industries, as well as from King County, and the Department of Corrections.
Teamster and UFCW grocery retail workers, who achieved an historic deal last year, were also on hand to lend their support.
Teamsters Local 117’s Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson kicked off the meeting with a powerful message: “Our grocery contracts are the best in the country, and it is our objective to keep it that way,” she said. “We are ready to take on this challenge and fight to defend ourselves, our families, and our livelihoods against the ongoing attack on working families.”
“It is essential to this Union that all of the grocery houses uphold the industry standard that Teamsters have worked so hard to achieve so that no one Company has an unfair advantage,” Thompson added.
IBT Warehouse Division Director John Williams proceeded to provide some historical context to grocery bargaining in our region, especially as it relates to the advantages of multi-employer negotiations.
Steve Vairma, the IBT’s Western Region Warehouse Division Director, compared grocery contracts in different parts of the western states, while Local 117’s General Counsel Spencer Thal discussed differences in contracts locally.
Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks talked about the power of Local Unions working together. “Teamsters Locals in the Joint Council are working together more closely than ever before. This partnership gives us maximum strength at the bargaining table because the employer understands that we are committed to fighting together to achieve the strongest possible contracts for all of our members,” he said.
After the meeting, Union members and their families enjoyed an old-fashioned Teamsters chowfest, compliments of our brothers and sisters at Teamsters Local 174.
"All of our labor agreements in other industries are tied to the success of our grocery contracts,” Thompson said. “Our success in grocery will have reverberations across our Union. That is why it is essential that we all unite with a common purpose.”
This summer we will be calling on all Teamsters to join members in the grocery industry in the fight to achieve fair and equitable grocery contracts. To get involved, contact Local 117 Organizer Brenda Wiest at 206-441-4860 ext. 1256 or check in at your Local Union’s website at www.teamsters117.org.