PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two weeks before one of grocery stores’ busiest holidays, Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers union workers voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike on the grounds of unfair labor practices, the union said.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 — which represents 29,000 workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington — said the vote to authorize a strike came Saturday against Fred Meyer and QFC because the companies have a disregard for federal labor laws that “has spilled over into negotiations.”
UFCW 555 President Dan Clay said they have “no choice but to take action.”
“Fred Meyer and QFC have repeatedly violated their legal duties to negotiate in good faith with Local 555, with the most blatant example being Fred Meyer’s refusal to provide information necessary for the Union to negotiate a new agreement and to process grievances,” Clay said. “The way these employers have violated the National Labor Relations Act has left grocery workers no choice but to take action.”
The union said the grocers — which are both subsidiaries of The Kroger Co. — are not paying their employees enough to keep up with the cost of living.
“The pandemic has highlighted both the importance of grocery workers to our communities as well as the struggles they endure to make ends meet, all while producing record profits for Fred Meyer and QFC,” said UFCW 555 Secretary-Treasurer Sandy Humphrey. “Essential employees deserve the same care and respect now that they have shown our neighbors over the last two years.”
A spokesperson with Fred Meyer told KOIN 6 News that the company’s offer to employees is substantial and they are committed to reaching an agreement. Fred Meyer issued this statement:
“It’s business as usual at Fred Meyer. A strike authorization doesn’t mean a strike. Our current offer shows our commitment to the whole person, providing wage increases, high-quality, affordable health care, and a pension benefit for retirement. The most productive thing the union can do is to work with the company in a manner that positively addresses these items. Our focus remains on our associates and getting an agreement at the bargaining table.”
The companies and the union will continue to bargain Tuesday through Thursday, UFCW 555 said.