Negotiations over a new union contract for Giant and Safeway workers is heating up — and after six months of discussions, the union will hold a rally Wednesday to announce an upcoming vote for a strike on both grocery chains if their demands aren’t met.
Both companies are proposing steep cuts to benefits for thousands of employees, said Jonathan Williams with UFCW Local 400, which represents many Safeway and Giant workers in the D.C. region.
“They’re insisting on minimum wage starting rates in D.C. and Maryland, and the biggest issue is addressing our pension,” Williams told WTOP. He said the companies are also proposing increases to out-of-pocket health care costs.
In addition to affordable health care and a fully-funded pension, the union also hopes to secure dependable schedules.
The current contract expired in October and both parties are working on an extension.
“We are not accepting the proposals that are on the table right now,” Williams said, adding some progress has been made with Giant, but members do not expect the same from Safeway.
Elected officials will join union members Wednesday morning for a rally outside a Southwest D.C. Safeway where they will detail their plan to vote on a strike.
“At a time like this, management tries to take advantage of employees’ fears of competition, profitability, and a strike to pressure them into accepting a substandard contract,” read an FAQ for union members detailing what to expect during a strike. “We need to stand firm for what we deserve.”
If the union votes to authorize a strike action, more than 25,000 workers at hundreds of Giant and Safeway locations across the region could take part.
“We are committed to remain at the bargaining table to work through our challenges and reach an agreement that rewards our employees,” a Safeway representative replied when contacted for comment.
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