Thousands of employees working at Giant or Safeway stores in the D.C region are expected to hold a rally on Wednesday, after negotiations on a union deal failed.
Workers calling for better wages, healthcare benefits and pensions, represented by the union UFCW local 400, will announce a vote for a strike on both grocery chains if their demands aren’t met.
The union decided to organize the rally after holding talks with the two companies for five months. Both Giant and Safeway reportedly did not backtrack on cuts to healthcare funding and retirement benefits.
The chains also proposed a three-year freeze on wages for newly hired employees in D.C. and Maryland at the minimum wage, according to Jonathan Williams, a spokesperson for the union. Speaking to WAMU, he said that the plan was unacceptable, adding “if you … pay union dues and you make minimum wage, you actually earn less than at any other job.”
After six months of negotiations getting us nowhere, we are being forced to resort to a strike. Why? Because every grocery worker deserves:
✅ Wages we can live on
✅ Schedules we can depend on
✅ Healthcare we can afford
✅ Pension we can count onhttps://t.co/6oXHOScmvD
— UFCW Local 400 (@UFCW400) February 18, 2020
Another discussion point has been about the employers putting a 24-hour limit on the number of hours part-time staff are allowed to work per week, which deprives them of some benefits.
UFCW local 400 will announce the date of the upcoming vote at the press conference.
“If members vote to authorize a strike, more than 25,000 grocery workers at hundreds of stores in the region could go out on strike. While contract negotiations will continue with both companies, we are prepared to take a strike vote if we are unable to reach a fair contract,” the union said in a statement on its website.
The statement also noted that the demonstrators will be joined by local elected officials, community leaders and others.