Safeway Home Delivery Drivers in Wash. Vote to Strike
Safeway Teamsters in Washington state who drive trucks for home delivery of groceries have voted to strike following a breakdown in negotiations for a first contract, which had been taking place since late last year.
According to Tukwila-based Teamsters 174, its members who drive the trucks – along with truck-driving members of Tacoma-based Local 313 – faced “slow progress and management’s unwillingness to back off from several unacceptable proposals,” causing them to hold a strike authorization vote. The majority voted in favor.
Issues that led the negotiating team to decide on a strike authorization vote include:
- Safeway.com placing new hires in full-time positions without offering those positions to current part-time employees, which the Teamsters involved claimed “blatantly disregard[ed] the principle of seniority.”
- Management’s insistence on proposals that would allow the withholding of better routes and hours from drivers on the basis of qualifications, including “attitude.”
"I've been diagnosed with a 'bad attitude' since the third grade," said Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. "We're not going to agree to let them pick and choose who gets to work based on who they like the most. That runs contrary to everything we do as a union."
Added Rick Hicks, Local 174 secretary-treasurer: "As usual, our hope is that a strike is not necessary to get to a contract for these drivers. However, the group has spoken clearly and in one voice: Management needs to start listening when we tell them that if they won't respect seniority, they are going to have a problem."
When reached for a comment, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., parent of Safeway.com, told Progressive Grocer:
"Safeway.com will continue to be focused on working through the remaining issues at the bargaining table. We are committed to reaching an agreement that is in the best interest for all impacted: our employees, our customers and our company. "
Local 174 also represents nearly 150 Safeway truck drivers out of the company's distribution center in Auburn, Wash. If the Safeway.com drivers were to strike, these truck drivers would honor the picket line, halting delivery of groceries to Safeway stores throughout the Evergreen State.