The Wake of a Strike

We have a Tentative Agreement for Safeway and Albertsons

On February 17th and 18th, the Union Negotiations Committee met with representatives for Safeway and Albertsons and reached a Tentative Agreement. While the contract is similar to the settlement we got for Fred Meyer and QFC members in December, there are some key differences.

The Tentative Agreement includes meaningful wage increases for all members, adds enhanced workplace safety measures, and provides in-store flexibility that increases access to available hours and shifts. The settlement protects our health and welfare plan, as well as strengthens our pension. The agreement covers members working at Safeway and Albertsons stores in Oregon, Southwest Washington, Idaho, and Western Wyoming.

The employers divided themselves at the beginning of Negotiations by electing to bargain separately, breaking from the Unity Negotiations format used in previous contracts. While the employers continued to negotiate separately, we remained as united as ever, negotiating for Safeway and Albertsons in the wake of the Fred Meyer/QFC ULP strike in December.

The strike set the tone for our successful negotiations in the Safeway/Albertsons contract and for locals across the West Coast. After Fred Meyer/QFC hailed retail workers as heroes for serving our communities through the pandemic and putting our lives on the line, they thought they were going to settle for around a 50 cent wage increase a year. They called us essential, and treated us as disposable. Grocery workers deserved better, and they got a far better deal after the strike than the employers had on the table beforehand.

Withholding our labor is one of our most powerful tools. Without us, the shelves are bare, the cash registers empty, and the produce rots in the back of a semi-truck. Without us, the basic needs of the community are unmet and employers bleed money by the minute. That’s why we’re essential. Our power, therefore, is in our readiness and willingness to strike. Yet, strikes have been relatively rare in recent decades. Now the tides are turning. 

As corporations compete for record profits amid dire conditions, workers all over the country are uniting to fight back. The public is on our side more than ever, and we are increasingly empowered to challenge employers for our share. 

The next strike is not a matter of if, but when. To be better prepared, we are holding votes during the upcoming quarterly meetings (see page X) to start a strike fund. This fund will help ensure striking members can make ends meet when they are on the picket lines. This strike fund will be built up for all industries, not just for retail. UFCW represents thousands of essential healthcare and manufacturing workers as well.

By the time you read this, the votes will have been taken on the new contract. Like the deal won for Fred Meyer, this contract is the best one seen by members working at Safeway and Albertsons in decades. But our fight for thriving wages, workplace safety, dignity on the job, and a healthy work-life balance, never ends. We will continue to fight for the best contract possible. You deserve nothing less.

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