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    UFCW Mobilizes Workers in Support of Workers at Safeway, Ahold

    The union said the issues in contention are affordable health care, and living wages for workers at the two chains.

    In support of the 26,000 Safeway and Ahold employees in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. who may go on strike, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union said its members gathered outside of Safeway and Ahold-owned supermarkets across the country to talk to shoppers about the union's contract dispute with the grocers.

    At issue are local wages and health care, according to the UFCW. "Safeway and the other big grocery chains already reached agreements with workers in other parts of the country that provide affordable health care and decent wages. It's really important that these companies treat all of [their] employees fairly," said UFCW Local 21 Melissa Champion, a Seattle Safeway employee.

    The contract covering Washington, D.C. and Baltimore workers expires March 29. Over the past 18 months, UFCW members have staged unified actions in support of supermarket bargaining, the union said. Yesterday's events are the latest development in the national unity bargaining movement among union members who work in the grocery industry.

    Officials at Ahold and Safeway were unavailable for comment about the union's actions yesterday.

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