UPDATE: After very difficult negotiations involving both employers, UFCW Local 400 members successful ratified 19-month agreements at both Giant/Ahold and Safeway Inc. Please read our release, Giant, Safeway Workers Overwhelmingly Ratify New Contract, for an update.
With its current contract expiring on March 31, 2012, UFCW Local 400′s Bargaining Advisory Committee is hard at work and the union’s negotiators, led by Local President Thomas P. McNutt, are meeting weekly in joint negotiations with representatives from Safeway and Giant/Ahold.
While details of the negotiations are not being made public, it is expected the grocery chains will try to take advantage of the economy and high unemployment to force wage and benefit concessions. The union has announced it will resist any such demands, noting both companies have recovered from the recession and are posting record revenues and profits. Take a look at the companies profits on the financial results page of our blog.
If a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by March 31st, the union is expected to ask its members to authorize a strike.
UFCW Local 400 represents some 17,000 grocery workers employed at 126 Safeway and Giant stores in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. With a total membership over 40,000, it is the largest local union in the 1.2 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Safeway and Netherlands-based Giant/Ahold are publicly-held companies that together control almost 60% of the Washington, DC metropolitan grocery market. For the past thirty years, their unionized workforces have given wage and benefit concessions to keep the firms profitable and there have been no strikes.
Local 400 President McNutt has been publicly warning shoppers of the potential for a strike and has declared 2012 “payback time.” See his closing remarks from a seminar for Giant and Safeway shop stewards: Download the full speech here.