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QUEENS VILLAGE, N.Y. -- Pathmark, Stop & Shop, and King Kullen operations in the New York metropolitan area with unionized workers could face a possible strike unless they can reach a tentative agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 over a new contract. The current contract will expire at midnight, June 24.
The 15,000 grocery employees represented by the union work throughout Long Island, the five boroughs of New York City, and Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in upstate New York. The union said that starting June 12, it must begin meetings with workers to either take a strike vote or update them that a tentative agreement has been reached.
"Over the last few years, the supermarket industry has seen some very volatile negotiations, starting with the Southern California supermarkets workers' strike that affected over 70,000 workers, lasted said months and devastated the economy of the entire region," said UFCW Local 1500 president Bruce W. Both, the lead negotiator for the affected New York workers, in a statement. "We believe that a win-win situation is within the reach of the parties involved in these negotiations and that unnecessary posturing will only lead to worker and consumer anxiety."
Both cited the unified character of the union for the fact that a major strike had been avoid in the area for the past 30 years. "However, between the devastating California strike two years ago and the recent transit workers' strike still fresh in everyone's mind, we feel it would benefit the entire region to reach an early agreement," he noted.
The key issues during these negotiations are health care benefits, pension fund financing, Sunday premium pay, and wage increases, according to the union.
Local 1500 represents 23,000 grocery workers in the metro New York area. Contracts with additional employers, among them D'Agostinos, Gristedes, Key Foods, and ShopRite, covering another 6,000 employees, are due to expire in September.