Grocery strike averted with little time to spare

What could have been the first grocery store workers strike in the Puget Sound area since 1989 was averted tonight with nearly two hours left on the clock.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 announced its bargaining team left negotiations with Allied Employers, which represents multiple supermarket chains, around 5 p.m. with a tentative agreement unanimously accepted by its members. The union gave employers Albertson's, Fred Meyers, QFC and Safeway its 72-hour notice it planned to strike at 7 p.m. Friday after two weeks of further negotiations failed.

Supermarket employees voted to strike in late September, but agreed to hold off pending further bargaining. Had negotiations not prevailed tonight, grocery workers would have started striking at 7 p.m.

"There's no usual on this one," said UFCW 21 spokesman Tom Geiger. "There was a strike back in '89 and then in 2010 there was a vote to authorize a strike, but this situation, I don't think this has ever happened. … The clock has been stopped."

The bargaining team consisted of UFCW 21 and 367 and Teamsters 38 working around the clock with Allied Employers toward an agreement that would ensure union members continued to be paid fairly and to prevent a loss of health insurance benefits supermarket chains had been blaming on portions of the Affordable Care Act. Geiger said the union member bargaining team is happy with the agreement, but details won't be released until union members have reviewed and voted for it, as well.


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