PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Negotiations are underway as Fred Meyer and QFC union workers recently voted to authorize a strike. However, if an agreement isn’t reached, workers could be picketing outside stores starting Friday.
KOIN 6 News talked to Fred Meyer officials, labor union leaders and an employee at the Fred Meyer on Hawthorne.
“I don’t think Fred Meyer’s is going to let us have what we want, what we need and what we deserve,” said Timojen Walker, a deli clerk at Fred Meyer.
Walker has worked at Fred Meyer to keep food on everyone’s table throughout the pandemic.
“It’s been tough having to go back and forth between working here and a second job and being able to afford food, and rent and electricity,” Walker said.
Pay is one of many reasons he voted along with his fellow workers at Fred Meyer and QFC to authorize a strike.
Labor union leaders said they are negotiating for better healthcare, worker safety, and wages.
“Fred Meyer has refused to give us the legally required information and process the grievances resolving around this issue negotiations. So, it’s left workers with really no other choice but to take action,” Miles Eshaia of UFCW Local 555 said.
However, Fred Meyer spokesperson Jeffrey Temple said “our company continues to follow every labor law and a legal requirement. We have not refused any information that is required to proceed.”
While the average Fred Meyer hourly rate is $17.29, Temple said they have offered wage increases and hope to come to an agreement to avoid a strike this week.
“So, right now the focus is to continue to negotiate and achieve a fair and balanced contract for our associates,” Temple said.
But employees and union leaders don’t share that optimism.
“We’ve had a bad relationship with striking in the past, and I think we will be striking this weekend,” Walker said.
Eshaia also explained “it is our sincere hope that shoppers respect our picket line and do not cross the line if we go out on strike.”
The strike does not include all employees but the departments that have authorized a strike include the grocery, meat and check out departments.
If they go on strike, it will start Friday and could last through Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile Fred Meyer officials said they are preparing to be business as usual for the holidays.