DENVER — More than a week after contract negotiations broke down again, union grocery employees of Safeway here are demanding that the United Food and Commercial Workers sanction a strike. But it was still unclear Thursday whether an OK was forthcoming.
UFCW Local 7 here in a message posted on its website insisted it had met all the requirements set out by the union’s international office in Washington when negotiations broke down Oct. 20 with both Safeway and Kroger-owned King Soopers rejecting a worker proposal and holding to the same “final offers” that workers rejected in September. But officials of the international appear to have some concerns.
According to a September letter from international President Joe Hansen to Local 7 officials, Local 7’s “unique and non-traditional” approach to bargaining — referring to the union’s longstanding practice of bargaining with hundreds of representatives at a time — has made negotiations challenging. “Failure to seek a negotiated settlement prior to engaging in a strike will ultimately impact final strike authorization,” Hansen wrote.
A similar contract dispute between Local 7 and employers in 2004 ended when the international stepped in and negotiated on the local’s behalf following a stalemate with employers.
If workers strike against Safeway, King Soopers said it would lock out its workers. Both chains have been advertising for replacement employees.
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