Written by Brita Moore
Local grocery store workers are fighting for what they feel is a fair deal.
With their collective bargaining agreement set to expire on Aug. 1, union workers from Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers picketed outside stores in the Puget Sound area on July 3 to raise awareness about an agreement that would affect 30,000 workers.
“Today we are out here letting our customers know that we are in negotiations and fighting for a fair contract,” United Food and Commercial Workers Union No. 367 spokeswoman Jessica Rosch said. “We are just asking our customers for support.”
Bargaining negotiations between workers and grocery store management are happening about once a week.
State Senator Nathan Schlicher (D-26) stopped by the Gig Harbor picketing to express his support for the workers. “I believe that we need to strengthen the middle class so everyone has a fair chance to get ahead,” Schlicher said.
The workers are negotiating to keep their health care plan affordable and available to all employees, to increase starting wage to 25 cents above minimum wage and for grocery store workers to earn the same sick leave benefits as those within the City of Seattle, which has a paid sick leave law.
Workers from UFCW 21, UFCW 367 and Teamsters 38 stood outside their stores in Seattle, Tacoma, Enumclaw, Gig Harbor, Renton, Bremerton, Duvall, Lynden, Kent and North Bend, wearing bright yellow shirts and holding signs.
While many stores in the Puget Sound region do have unionized workers, many also do not, such as Walmart, Winco and Whole Foods. “We are not being greedy, we just want a livable wage,” Rosch said.