New Union Chief Warns Of Grocery Unrest

CHICAGO - The new president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union said a wave of grocery strikes in the Midwest and Northeast could be on the horizon despite ongoing negotiations in the regions, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Joe Hansen told the Chicago Tribune that the test will come in Chicago, where the union has renewed talks with Safeway Inc.'s Dominick's, and in the Washington, D.C., area, where its contract for about 2,800 workers at Safeway, Ahold AV's Giant and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.'s Super Fresh supermarket chains expires on March 28.

"If Safeway comes to the table (in Washington) talking like they did in California, we'll have another strike," he said.

Dominick's last offer to Chicago-area union members in November 2002 was voted down, which prompted Safeway to put the chain up for sale for a short time. The contract covers about 11,500 workers.

In the wake of the California strike, Hansen said the union's effort to organize the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. chain, which hasn't had any success in the U.S., will be re-examined and expanded.
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