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United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 400 and 27 have agreed to extend their members’ collective bargaining agreement with Giant-Landover and Safeway through Dec. 20. The contract originally expired on Oct. 31, was extended through Nov. 15 and now will continue for another five and a half weeks while both sides continue to negotiate.
“Like virtually all negotiations taking place around the country today, the No. 1 obstacle to reaching agreement is the impact of the Affordable Care Act on multiemployer Taft-Hartley funds, like the one that provides health coverage to our members at Giant and Safeway,” noted Mark P. Federici, president of Landover, Md.-based Local 400.
Additionally blaming several instances of long delays and extensions during contract negotiations on “the pervasiveness of corporate greed,” Federici pledged that the union would “work tenaciously to secure a new collective bargaining agreement that provides [members] with the security, respect and dignity they have more than earned.”
Confirming the continued negotiations “in good faith” and the contract extension, Jamie Miller, manager, public and community relations at Giant Food, added: “As always, our focus is on securing a fair and reasonable contract that respects our company’s 77-year legacy and honors our associates’ contributions, while also recognizing our competitive realities. We are encouraged by the progress we are making at the bargaining table, and we are hopeful that we will soon reach a contract agreement for our associates.”
In the interim, however, members of Local 400 have voted overwhelmingly to authorize strikes at both Giant Food and Safeway in a move meant "to send a strong signal to [the grocers] that [workers] will do whatever it takes to get a fair contract," according to the union, which added that the vote doesn't necessarily mean that a strike will occur. Unionized employees at both chains said they would continue a series of store actions telling shoppers and the community "about the importance of local retailers providing their workers with living wages, health and retirement security, and respect."
Local 400 represents 40,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; West Virginia; Ohio; Kentucky; and Tennessee. Local 27, based in Towson, Md., represents more than 20,000 members in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.