Contract negotiations involving more than 400 warehouse workers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, and Fred Meyer broke off last night. Key issues in bargaining are health care and Fred Meyer’s insistence on language that would allow the company to outsource the workers’ jobs to a third-party subcontractor.
“Grocery warehouse workers at Fred Meyer form a critical link in the food supply chain that helps feed Washington families. They perform physically demanding work under a tight production standard. Together with workers on the farms and in the stores, they help keep our food healthy and safe. When Fred Meyer intimidates workers, threatens to outsource their jobs, or insists on degrading their medical coverage, it harms the entire community,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
Negotiations between the Union and Fred Meyer began on June 13. The parties have met a total of nine times. The workers’ contract expired on July 12. No talks are currently scheduled. Over the weekend of August 23-24, the workers voted 241-2 to authorize a strike.
“Fred Meyer is pushing us to the brink and threatening our livelihoods. We are prepared to fight to protect our jobs and to keep Fred Meyer from eliminating hundreds of good jobs in our community,” said order selector Shane Flom, a Shop Steward and member of the Union bargaining committee.
Teamsters at three grocery warehouses – Safeway, SuperValu, and Unified Grocers – voted to ratify their contracts in July, leaving Fred Meyer as the only Teamster grocery warehouse in the area that has not settled its contract.
“Fred Meyer is threatening our local food supply by trying to provoke a strike,” Thompson said. “In contrast, Safeway showed that it could work with the Union to achieve a fair settlement for its employees. That’s why grocery warehouse workers at Safeway ratified their contract 140-1.”
The contract between the Union and Fred Meyer covers 407 workers at the company’s distribution center in Puyallup. Fred Meyer is a subsidiary of Kroger, Inc., the second-largest grocery retailer in the country. In 2013, Kroger reported sales of $98.4 billion and profits of $1.5 billion. Teamsters Local 117 represents approximately 16,000 members, with over 1000 members who work in the grocery warehouse industry.