August 1, 2008 Volume 109 Number 15

Portland area grocery pacts expire, UFCW braces for war

Grocery and meat contracts in the Portland metropolitan area expired July 26, but workers — members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 — are still on the job under contract extensions.

Local 555 represents about 6,000 workers at Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway stores in the Portland metropolitan area. Kroger is the parent company of Fred Meyer and QFC.

“We’re expecting a war, and we will need your help,” Jeff McDonald, secretary-treasurer of the union, told delegates at the monthly meeting of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.

The first bargaining session was held July 16, at which Local 555 proposed full maintenance of benefits, an increase in pension contributions, a three-year contract with journeyperson wage increases of $1 an hour for each year of the contract, card-check recognition, and more.

“They seemed shocked,” McDonald told the NW_Labor Press. “They somehow think that the Eugene settlement should be the pattern agreement for Portland. Well, a lot has changed since that settlement. Food is more expensive. Gas is more expensive. It costs a lot more just to get to work.”

Since the Eugene area ratification in January, contracts have been ratified in Salem, Newport, Lincoln City, Astoria, Tillamook, Coos Bay, Florence, Vancouver, Medford, Roseburg, Brookings, McMinnville, Hood River, and Lakeview.

The next bargaining session for Portland is Aug. 28.

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