Pacific Northwest Grocers, Union Reach Tentative Agreement

Pacific Northwest Grocers, Unions Reach Tentative Agreement
UFCW Local 55 called for a boycott against Fred Meyer stores last week, but after reaching a tentative agreement with that banner and others in Oregon and southwest Washington, told consumers they could once again shop there

Following two days of negotiations, four grocery store operators reached a tentative agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 this past weekend, averting a potential strike at Fred Meyer, one of the banners involved in the talks.

The tentative agreement, reached Sept. 28, covers about 18,000 grocery associates at The Kroger Co.'s Fred Meyer and QFC banners and Albertsons and its Safeway division in Oregon and southwest Washington, The Daily News, of Longview, Wash., reported. Details of the agreement won’t be disclosed until union members have reviewed it and voted on whether to ratify it.

According to UFCW Local 555, however, “Our bargaining team is happy to report that we were successful in addressing all of our concerns.” The two sides had wrangled over wage offers, and the union had demanded the companies close what it believed was a gender pay gap.

During the labor dispute, union officials accused Fred Meyer of using intimidation -- charges the retailer denies -- when the union decided to cancel its contracts with the chain and overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike.

Local 555 requested last week that shoppers boycott Fred Meyer in response to the grocer’s “unfair labor practices” and lack of response to union contract proposals, after 15 months of negotiations.

“We are now asking all of our supporters to cease the boycott and resume their normal shopping habits, including shopping at Fred Meyer,” Local 555 said in a press release.

Local media reports suggest that there was minimal consumer reaction to the boycott.

This latest tentative agreement comes on the heels of a summer of labor unrest that included disputes between union locals and Albertsons, Kroger and Save Mart banners in California.

Tigard, Ore.-based UFCW Local 555 represents nearly 25,000 workers in Oregon and southwest Washington.

Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,769 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., which operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as New York-based meal-kit company Plated, is No. 3 on PG's Super 50 list. 

No. 19 on the Super 50 list, Modesto, Calif.-based Save Mart operates 208 traditional and price-impact stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky, FoodMaxx, S-Mart Foods and MaxxValue Foods.

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