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Grocery strike looms as negotiations resume

Is it time to start stocking up on groceries? That’s the question many are asking as contract talks between grocery stores and union members resumed Tuesday.

Approximately 30,000 grocery workers are getting ready to walk, should these two days of negotiations not go the way they like.

“If the employers don’t respond to a 98 percent strike authorization with a dramatic shift in their proposals, we have to go to the next stage of the campaign,” UFCW local 21 spokesman Tom Geiger said.

Union members voted overwhelmingly last month to approve a strike if a new contract can’t be reached.

Other unions are lining up behind the grocery workers to support them if they go on strike. The Teamsters have told their drivers not to cross any picket lines. That could prevent food deliveries to and from the distribution centers and to stores.

Shoppers will still have some time to prepare if the union votes to strike. They must give 72 hours notice to employers before walking out.

Strike captains are being picked. Picket schedules are being filled out.

The key issue in these negotiations is healthcare. The stores want want to restrict company benefits to those who work 30 hours a week. Most grocery workers don’t hit that number. Under the current contract, workers can qualify for health coverage if they work as little as 16 hours a week.

SPEEA, Boeing’s engineering union, has adopted several stores to help in picketing. They are also threatening to boycott the stores should there be a strike. The Boeing machinists are considering the same tactics.

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