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The Union representing workers at the Zallies and Ravitz Shop Rite supermarkets in southern New Jersey today hand delivered a seven-day strike notice to the company, as required by law. If no agreement is reached by midnight on Thursday, September 6, 2001 thousands of supermarket workers could be walking picket lines instead of checking out customer grocery orders.
Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1360 authorized their Union to call a strike at a meeting last Thursday. The company had refused to meet for negotiations until today, said the Union's President, Clay Bowman, who also noted that the seven-day strike notice was "a way to let the company know that this is a very serious situation and that our Union's members were ready to fight for a fair contract."
Bowman noted that his Union's members were ready to walk out because the company was not offering enough money for wage increases and it was also looking to make cuts in health care benefits and shift the cost of health care onto their employees by demanding a co-pay system.
"This company has refused, until today, to take these negotiations seriously," he said. "For some reason they think that our membership will not stand up and oppose the company's demands for health benefits cuts and co-pays. Sending them a seven-day strike notice is our way to let the company know that this is a very serious situation and that our Union's members were ready to fight for a fair contract."
Bowman said he believed that there was still time to avoid a strike but only, as he said, "if someone in the company comes to their senses and recognizes that all their employees are asking for is a fair deal."
UFCW Local 1360 represents 10,000 workers in the retail, service, health care and government service fields in southern New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.