Safeway, Fry's enter in mutual lockout agreement By Joe Pangburn Published on Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Fry’s Food and Safeway have entered in an agreement allowing one of the grocery chains to lockout its bargaining workers if the other stores’ employees begin a strike, which could occur as soon as Friday evening.
The grocers are currently engaged in labor negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99. The current labor contract expired last year, and a recent extension expired on October 31.
The "mutual strike assistance and lockout agreement" allows, but does not require, either Safeway or Fry's to force union members into a strike if members strike at the other chain. The agreement does not preclude either Fry’s or Safeway from independently entering into a settlement with UFCW Local 99.
“Fry’s signed this agreement to protect our companies, our customers and our employees’ jobs in the event of a union strike," said JoEllen Lynn, director of public and community affairs for Fry’s.
The main issues in the negotiations revolve around wage increases and employee contributions to health-care premiums. Current employees don't contribute to health-care premiums now, but the employers' offer included contributions from newly hired workers of $5 to $15 per pay period.
The union is set to hit the picket lines Friday at 6 p.m. if no agreement is reached. Fry’s has already hired more than 2,500 temporary workers should the strike move forward.