Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa rallied hundreds of union members and their community partners today in support of Teamster grocery warehouse workers in their fight for a fair contract at Fred Meyer.
Hoffa praised workers at Fred Meyer for their courage as they hold the line in a “war on workers” that is being waged by corporate elites and radical politicians on the American middle class.
Hoffa was joined by several International Vice Presidents of the Teamsters Union, representatives of dozens of community groups, and elected leaders, including Senator Steve Conway of the 29th Legislative District, who spoke out in support of workers at the rally.
The event was held across the street from the Fred Meyer distribution center in Puyallup, where 362 grocery warehouse workers are fighting for quality health care coverage for themselves and their families.
Josh Putnam, a 14-year employee at Fred Meyer, spoke on behalf of the workers.
“Fred Meyer is denying decent health care coverage for me and my family. When my kids get sick, I should not have to think twice about bringing them to the doctor. No parent should be forced to make that choice,” he said.
Workers chanted “Teamster power!” and waved signs that read, “Stop the war on workers!” and “Quality health care now!” After the rally, the group marched across the street to the Fred Meyer distribution center that serves 140 stores in Washington, Alaska, and Idaho.
Teamsters at Fred Meyer have been working without a contract since August 15. Federal mediation between Teamsters Local 117 and Fred Meyer took place on September 7. The next round of mediation is scheduled for September 29.
Safeway, SuperValu, and Unified Grocers settled their contracts with the Teamsters in early August, leaving Fred Meyer as the only Teamster grocery warehouse in the area that has not reached an agreement with the Union. Fred Meyer is a subsidiary of Kroger, Inc., a company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kroger reported over $75 billion in revenue in 2010. In the first quarter of 2011, Kroger’s profits were $432.3 million, an increase of 16%. Teamsters Local 117 represents approximately 16,000 members, with over 1,000 members employed in the grocery warehouse industry.