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ST. LOUIS -- Members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 will take a strike vote Oct. 7 after rejecting a new contract proposal offered by the three largest grocery chains in the area Tuesday.
At least two-thirds of members present at the meeting must vote in favor of a strike, which would be the first in the union's history. If two-thirds do not vote in favor of a strike, the union will have a new contract, said Robert Kelley, president of UFCW Local 655.
About 64 percent of members voting rejected the proposed contract by Schnuck Markets Inc., Dierbergs Markets, and Shop 'n Save. "It's clear there are key aspects of this contract that our members feel are totally inadequate and inappropriate," Kelley said. "This proposal asked our members to do far more than they felt was reasonable, given that all the chains are in an expansion mode and spending money to acquire other assets."
The Greater St. Louis Food Employers' Council, which represents Schnucks, Dierbergs, and Shop 'n Save, said it was disappointed with the rejection but was hopeful it would avoid a strike. "In total, this compensation plan is the best in St. Louis and among the best in the Midwest," the council said in statement. "While we respect our associates' positions, this is a fair agreement recommended by union leadership. This is our best and final offer."
UFCW Local 655 covers more than 15,000 members in 46 counties in eastern Missouri. It does not represent southern Illinois.