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Unionized workers at Giant-Landover and Safeway in the Washington, D.C., area plan to hold an informational picket for what they call a “fair” contract on Thursday, Nov. 21 outside of a Giant store on 8th and O Street NW scheduled to celebrate its grand opening on that day.
The event comes a week after the workers voted to authorize the leadership of their union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400, to call a strike if contract differences aren’t resolved. The current contract originally expired on Oct. 31, and has since been extended twice. The current expiration date is Dec. 20. At issue is health care insurance coverage in the light of the Affordable Care Act.
“By authorizing a strike last week, our members put Giant and Safeway on notice that it is long past time to come to the table with a proposal that provides them with the security, respect and dignity they have more than earned,” said Mark Federici, president of Landover, Md.-based Local 400, which represents 40,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food-processing, service and other industries in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Also in support of their cause, workers at both grocery chains have leafleted stores, gathered shopper pledges, taken part in flash mobs, turned in their own pledge cards, and sought the support of other unions, local politicians and community groups.
When reached for comment, Jamie Miller, spokesman for Ahold-owned Giant Food LLC, responded: “Giant has a long history of working together with unions to reach collective bargaining agreements that are fair and reasonable for all parties. The parties continue intensive negotiations, and we are hopeful that we will reach an agreement with the unions that provides competitive wages and benefits for our associates and reflects our market realities.”