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SAFEWAY DC GETTING SET FOR STRIKE

TRACY, Calif. -- Summit Logistics here told SN last week it is preparing for a strike by members of the Teamsters Local 439 at the warehouse it owns and operates here, a 1.8 million-square-foot facility that supplies 245 Safeway stores in northern California, Nevada and Hawaii.However, a Teamsters spokesman told SN the union leadership was eager to settle the dispute without a strike.The 1,600 Teamsters

TRACY, Calif. -- Summit Logistics here told SN last week it is preparing for a strike by members of the Teamsters Local 439 at the warehouse it owns and operates here, a 1.8 million-square-foot facility that supplies 245 Safeway stores in northern California, Nevada and Hawaii.

However, a Teamsters spokesman told SN the union leadership was eager to settle the dispute without a strike.

The 1,600 Teamsters employed by the distribution center have been working without a contract since their previous agreement expired Sept. 27. Earlier this month, when they voted down Summit's most recent offer, union members also voted to give their leadership permission to call a strike.

Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., did not return repeated phone calls from SN last week. However, Michael Street, Summit president, said the retailer was preparing for a job action by the Teamsters. "They've gone to direct delivery with fresh meat and produce," he told SN.

Street said he had 1,400 replacement warehouse workers and 250 replacement truck drivers "sitting in hotel rooms" and ready to go to work in the event of a strike.

He said he was certain the Teamsters would call a strike. "It's not if or when -- they intend to strike us," he said.

According to Street, the major stumbling block to an agreement is the union's demand for a 22% pay increase in the first year of the contract. He said his "last and final offer," the offer union members rejected, was a 4% increase

He said he was scheduled to meet with union leaders late last week, but doubted if an agreement could be reached quickly.

However, Danny Beagle, Local 439 spokesman, was optimistic about the scheduled talks. "Nobody wants to go on strike," he said.

According to Beagle, the dispute with Summit is not primarily about pay but about the company's rules on "activity-based pay."

Beagle explained, "The truck drivers are paid for how many deliveries they make. They're on the road 13, 14, 15 hours at a time. They're forced to push themselves beyond what is reasonable."

The warehouse workers have a similar complaint about "unreasonable production standards, he said.