Colorado grocery workers set to strike

16 Sep

The union representing 17,000 workers at three of Colorado’s largest grocery chains has set strike votes for the next 2½ weeks across the state.

Both King Soopers and Safeway made final contract offers Sept. 9 to the union after five months of negotiations that have failed to produce an agreement with the union. The union’s bargaining committee voted to reject both offers.

A strike has been sanctioned by the union’s international leadership in Washington, D.C., but can’t begin until voting concludes Oct. 6, if the membership votes to strike. Local 7’s 200-person bargaining committee would vote afterward whether to strike one or both chains.

“Our goal from the first day of negotiations has been to avoid a strike or lockout. The corporations have been unwilling to meet workers halfway,” said Crisanta Duran, Local 7’s associate counsel.

Any strike would be the first Local 7 since the union staged a 42-day strike against King Soopers in 1996, triggering a lockout of union members by Safeway. Both chains have agreed to lock out workers if the union goes on strike against the other and have been advertising for temporary replacement workers who would be hired only if the union calls a strike.

Union officials say the offer is little changed from the initial offers from the chains and would require cuts in future pension accruals by up to 62 percent, raise the minimum retirement age for Local 7 members from 50 to 55 and end a $200-a-month supplemental payment for retirees age 60 to 62.

from the Colorado Springs Gazette

* The contract offer also gives no pay raises to workers who are lower on the pay scale and who need it the most.  This is of course an attempt to divide and conquer the workers based on internal divisions.

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