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Allied Employers, grocers union negotiations to restart
A day after grocery store workers voted to strike over failed union negotiations, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 announced this afternoon Allied Employers plans to return to the bargaining table.
Tom Geiger, UFCW 21 spokesman, said union leaders and employers will meet Oct.10-11 to continue negotiating for a new, fair contract. He added it was too soon to say whether a 98-percent vote to strike by employees at Albertson's, Fred Meyers, QFC and Safeway supermarkets expedited a return to the table. Labor negotiations for the supermarkets is being handled by Allied Employers.
"Our expectation is they will come to the table with a set of serious proposals," said Geiger. "Often these things are long-lasting days."
At the heart of the issue is employee insurance, which the retail stores have to provide to all workers as long as they put in at least 30 hours per week under the Affordable Care Act.
Allied Employers had proposed adhering to those conditions, which would require grocery employees lacking the required number of hours to find their own coverage through a health insurance exchange, said Scott Powers, vice president and lead negotiator for the supermarkets.
"We'll continue our discussions," he said. "With all employers, the Affordable Care Act is affecting how we deliver health care to our employees."
Geiger said if grocery store workers accepted the proposal, it would disqualify 8,000 workers from keeping or acquiring a health plan. He added there would also be no guarantee supermarkets wouldn't reduce hours for employees below the threshold for employer-provided insurance.
Also on the bargaining table are issues of employee wages, evening and holiday pay, paid sick leave and pensions.
Following the strike vote, Geiger said no date had been set for when a strike would occur, and plans to strike are on hold now that a timeline to renegotiate has been set.