Chains Take a Walk Over Talks

Dec 22, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) believed they were taking the necessary steps to settle the 10-week lockout/strike that has kept 70,000 grocery store workers
out of the store and on the picket line in Southern California when they met with representatives of Albertson’s, Kroger and Safeway on Friday.

The UFCW announced it was removing pickets from nine warehouse distribution centers and it came to the negotiating table with an offer proposing associates pick up between $350
to $500 million in medical benefits over the three year life of the contract.

The chains are asking for the union to kick in $1 billion for the same period.

A joint statement released by the chains said, “We had hoped the unions would make a realistic offer. Unfortunately, the proposal fell far short.”

The union responded angrily to the rebuff. “We came as close as halfway and they didn’t make a counterproposal,” union representative Barbara Maynard told Reuters. “They
clearly aren’t interested in negotiations. They’re interested in breaking the union and the spirit of the employees.”

Talks are not expected to resume between the two parties until after the New Year.

Moderator’s Comment: What is your assessment of the current state of the negotiations in the grocery workers walkout/strike in California?

The decision by the chains to walk out of the talks on Friday is going to add to the public’s sympathy with the store workers. That won’t make much difference
in the end, however, as the union was the first to blink and the chain’s will undoubtedly push for even further concessions before agreeing to a new contract.
Anderson – Moderator

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