TUKWILA, Wash., July 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Safeway grocery distribution throughout the Puget Sound area is in danger of grinding to a halt as soon as 12:01AM on Sunday morning, as a group of around 175 members of Teamsters Local 174 and 500 members of Teamsters Local 117 are on the brink of a strike. The group consists of all the Safeway tractor-trailer drivers who deliver groceries from Safeway's Auburn distribution center to Safeway/Albertsons stores, all warehouse workers in the Auburn, Bellevue, and Kent Distribution Centers, dispatchers, and Recycling Center workers. A strike by the entire group would make it all but impossible for Safeway to load and deliver groceries to stock shelves at Safeway/Albertsons and Haggen stores throughout Western Washington. Frozen goods distribution out of Bellevue including ice cream, soda, and dairy would be impacted statewide.
Contract negotiations ran aground when Safeway – which has been making record profits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – refused to acknowledge the incredible sacrifices made by their workforce, who put themselves at risk and worked endless hours keeping our communities fed. If an agreement is not reached by tomorrow, a strike vote will be taken by members of Teamsters Local 174 on Saturday morning. Once a strike is authorized by the membership, one can be called as early as 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning.
"Safeway has never made this much money, and our members working there have never put in so many hours keeping stores stocked for the benefit of our communities," said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. "Management uses words like 'essential worker' and 'hero' to describe their employees, but what we have seen in these negotiations is that Safeway still sees their workforce as nothing but an expense on their income statement. These hardworking Teamsters have pushed themselves to the brink in order to help our communities survive this pandemic, and Safeway clearly does not appreciate it. All they appreciate are the fat profit margins they earned as a result, and now their goal seems to be to pad their profit margins even further. Our members are not going to stand for it."
"We all remember the bare store shelves we experienced last March, and that was with all of our members working as hard as they could," Hicks continued. "Now we ask Safeway management to imagine how those shelves will look when the Teamsters are on strike. It's time for Safeway to get serious about addressing our concerns so that we can reach an agreement and avoid that nightmare."
In the event a strike is called, Safeway clerks represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Teamsters Local 38 have already pledged to inform their members of their rights under their Collective Bargaining Agreements to honor picket lines.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 working men and women in Seattle and the surrounding areas. "Like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.