Teamster warehouse workers employed at the Fred Meyer grocery distribution center in Puyallup voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike over the weekend. The final vote was 241-2. Voting took place at the Teamsters Union hall in Tukwila.
Fred Meyer’s insistence on subcontracting language that threatens Union members’ job security and its unwillingness to take a firm position on health care led to the vote.
“Fred Meyer wants the ability to outsource our members’ jobs to a third party, which could harm our local economy. The company is also unwilling to set parameters with respect to health care. Our members deserve to know how much they will be paying toward their health care over the term of the contract. So far, Fred Meyer has been unwilling to negotiate over those parameters,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
Bargaining between Teamsters Local 117 and Fred Meyer started on June 13. The parties have met 5 times and are scheduled to negotiate again on September 9. Teamsters at three grocery warehouses – Safeway, SuperValu, and Unified Grocers – voted to ratify their contracts over the weekend of July 19-20, leaving Fred Meyer as the only Teamster grocery warehouse in the area that has not settled its contract.
“Fred Meyer is irresponsibly vying to gain an unfair advantage over its competition,” 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. The facility serves approximately 140 stores in the region. The workers’ contract expired on July 12.
Workers in the grocery warehouse industry perform physically demanding work under a tight production standard. They work in ambient, refrigerated and freezer warehouse environments, manually handling heavy cases and operating forklifts and pallet jacks to receive, load and stock grocery products.
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.