With just two hours left on the clock, negotiators for grocery store union workers and four major grocery chains struck a preliminary deal on a new contract yesterday.
The agreement was made at 5 p.m. last night, according to the website of UFCW Local 367, which represents roughly 4,000 grocery workers in Pierce County. The union, along with Teamsters 38 in Snohomish County and UFCW 21 in Seattle, was threatening a strike against Safeway, Fred Meyer, Albertsons and QFC over, among other issues, cuts to health care benefits.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative settlement agreement with the unions that continues to preserve good wages, secure pensions and access to quality, affordable health care for our employees,” said a statement from Scott Powers of Allied Employers, which was in charge of negotiations for the four grocery chains.
A statement on the UFCW Local 367 website confirmed that the tentative deal has been unanimously recommended by the union bargaining team. Past that, spokesperson Kat Overman of UFCW Local 367 said that the union is declining to talk further about the agreement until after its members has voted. Language is being finalized for such a vote, Overman said, although the vote itself has not been planned.
The times and locations of those vote meetings will be announced after they are scheduled, per the statement on UFCW 367's site.
Announcement of the tentative pact signaled an end to a days-long negotiation session, one that began last Wednesday. Had a strike not been averted, it would have been the first local grocery strike since 1989.