Unions Put Albertson’s, Safeway Workers in Strike Mode

NEW YORK–Union officials representing some 30,000 workers at supermarket giants Albertson’s and Safeway told their members to prepare for a strike after receiving a contract proposal that they said was “dead on arrival.”

The strike already has been delayed several times, including once after the tragic events of Sept. 11 put the nation into a state of mourning and rebuilding.

Both Albertson’s and Safeway, the nation’s second and third largest supermarket retailers, respectively (behind Kroger), say the new offer will place the affected workers among their companies “highest paid retail store associates.”

According to United Food and Commercial Workers representative Joe Peterson, the eight UFCW locals in 300 Safeway and Albertson’s along the west coast will hold meetings through Oct. 7 and then vote on the latest offer. He said a strike could begin the next day if approved by a two-thirds majority.

The supermarket chains have formed a “mutual strike assistance agreement” that includes contingencies for a marketing/branding campaign and the hiring of replacement workers. In a joint statement Wednesday the retailers said the proposal is the “last, best and final offer” and “will not be improved, even in the event of a prolonged strike.”