Since March, 25,000 grocery store workers across Puget Sound have been in negotiations for a new contract. These workers are union members of UFCW 21, UFCW 81, and Teamsters 38. And they have already taken action in more than 200 stores across nine counties.
This effort was revisited on Aug. 25, when a group of local grocery store workers stood up together for a fair contract.
Francesca Chung-Luk, a worker at the Kirkland Safeway’s Starbucks and a UFCW 21 member, said, “The health plan is very important to me. And I have worked for many years so my pension is also very important. I want those protected in my contract.” She was joined by a dozen co-workers, community allies, and UFCW 21 staff as they all crammed into the store manager’s office.
Amy Leong, a volunteer at APALA (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance) spoke as a community ally and in support of the struggle of the grocery workers who are fighting to get a contract that boosts their wages, protects their pension, and secures their pension. In addition, she referred to aspects of the Grocery Store Workers Bill of Rights that calls for such protections as improved scheduling and paid sick days.
Currently, the companies want a three-day notice of the weekly work schedule and to maintain a former sick leave policy. Currently, many workers do not know their work schedule until Thursday for the week starting on Sunday, making it difficult to plan for their needs and those of their families.
Hong Woo, a UFCW 21 staff member, spoke in Mandarin, echoing the points that all the union members stand together on.
Since March, the grocery store workers have taken action in each of the big chain stores in Western Washington — Safeway, Albertsons, QFC, and Fred Meyer.
Contract negotiations are still underway, and while the employers have made modifications to some of the proposals, many say that the big picture hasn’t changed much.
More than 12,000 grocery store workers have signed the Grocery Store Workers Bill of Rights. ♦