Grocery workers reach tentative agreement to avoid strike

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Union grocery workers reached a tentative agreement with the national grocery chains in contract negotiations at 5 p.m. Monday.

“This tentative agreement has been unanimously recommended by the union member bargaining team,” a union statement read. “Details will not to be released until after union members themselves have had the opportunity to review the tentative agreement and vote on it. The times and locations of those vote meetings will be announced in the coming days after arrangements have been made to schedule the votes.”

On Sunday, a large group gathered for a show of solidarity in Westlake Center. Representatives for Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Albertsons were working for days, negotiating union workers on issues including pay and health benefits.

At that gathering, Fred Meyer worker Jodi Berndt thought the strike was unavoidable.

“To come here and see all the people that support you and will stand with you through a strike, it’s amazing,” Berndt said.

Union workers had said they would strike at 7 p.m. Monday if an agreement was not reached.

Political pressure also was in full effect at the Sunday rally. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who was endorsed three months ago by grocery union UFCW 21, spoke to the crowd for about 5 minutes.

His opponent in the upcoming mayoral election, State Senator Ed Murray, watched the rally from the crowd. But Murray said he would picket with workers in the event of a strike.

Meanwhile, Sunday evening the chief spokesman for the grocery stores sent KIRO 7 the same simple text message he sent on Saturday, which read “still bargaining.”

A strike would affect nearly 90 stores within a 15-mile radius of Seattle, including 20 Safeway stores, 40 QFC locations, 16 Albertson grocery stores and 12 Fred Meyer locations.

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