Seattle Unions Take Strike Vote

SEATTLE — Approximately 25,000 grocery workers and meatcutters in three union locals here are scheduled to vote through Wednesday on an employer contract offer — an offer union officials have asked employees to reject while also asking them to authorize a strike.

SEATTLE — Approximately 25,000 grocery workers and meatcutters in three union locals here are scheduled to vote through Wednesday on an employer contract offer — an offer union officials have asked employees to reject while also asking them to authorize a strike.

The contracts cover workers at Safeway [4], Supervalu [5]-owned Albertsons, and Kroger [6]-owned Fred Meyer and QFC in the Greater Seattle area. The unions involved are United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, representing the majority of grocery employees; UFCW Local 81, representing the majority of meatcutters; and Teamsters Local 38, which represents some grocery workers not represented by UFCW Local 21.

The contracts under discussion expired March 18 and have been extended several times, with Nov. 15 as the latest deadline. According to Tom Geiger, a spokesman for Local 21, the latest employer offer calls for cuts in wages, health care and pension contributions.

Scott Powers, vice president of Allied Employers, the Kirkland, Wash.-based company representing the chains, said the offer being voted on was the offer on the table in mid-October when the unions broke off negotiations, "not our last, best offer. So the vote is premature — we're not done negotiating, and we think they should come back to the bargaining table to finish this up."