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Grocery strike possible in ‘days or weeks’

Greg Mass

Union members could stage protests in Garfield County grocery stores from Carbondale to Battlement Mesa by if they decide to go on strike. According to United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union spokesman Dave Minshall, even nonunion stores – a list that includes all City Market stores in the county – will be picketed if the union strikes. “It’s up to the corporations,” Minshall said. “If they put an offer on the table that gives affordable health care and doesn’t cut wages,” union workers likely will be satisfied, he said. The Safeway in Glenwood Springs is the only unionized store in Garfield County. Minshall said that if the two parties don’t reach an agreement, a strike could come “in days or weeks.”Local 7, the Western Slope grocery workers union, comprises about 1,200 workers. The union rejected an offer Wednesday afternoon from the corporations that own City Market, Safeway and Albertsons stores, because it says those corporations offered less to Western Slope workers than their Front Range counterparts.”One thing the workers asked for is, they think they ought to have the same deal as those on the Front Range,” Minshall said. The Colorado grocery corporations have said their proposals, which could cut benefits and wages, “are designed to address the need for their grocery stores to better compete with Wal-Mart and other low-cost competitors.” Wednesday’s offer was made in Grand Junction when corporate grocery store executives met with about 75 union members. Grocery executives said they offered Western Slope workers less than Front Range workers because “competitive pressures on the Western Slope are greater and the cost of living is less than the rest of Colorado.”Minshall said Safeway workers rejected the proposal on Wednesday. A manager at the Glenwood Springs Safeway declined to comment on the negotiations.Union members began voting this month on the Front Range proposal from King Soopers, Safeway and Albertsons and whether to strike, but the national UFCW president halted the vote while he reviewed the offer.A union spokeswoman said it could be a couple of days before there is a decision on what will happen next.The talks on the Western Slope involve workers at 16 Safeway, Albertsons and City Market stores. King Soopers and City Market are both owned by Kroger Co.Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext. 511gmasse@postindependent.com


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