LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- At the Lynnwood Convention Center Tuesday night, some of the last ballots will be cast by nearly 20,000 grocery workers who are employed by some of the largest grocery chains from Olympia to the Canadian border and east to the Cascade Mountains.
They work for Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertson’s. And if passed, the ballot would allow negotiators to take union members on strike if future negotiations break down, called strike authorization.
The grocery stores are again negotiating a new contract together under the banner of Allied Employers. While the union is frustrated with what they call take-backs, such as an end to time-and-one-half on holidays and no offer of a pay raise, what really stands out is health care and the impact of the Affordable Care Act.
The stores have proposed having workers who work fewer than 30 hours a week get their health insurance from government insurance exchanges under health care reform and to no longer be on the insurance plan now jointly managed by the unions and the companies.
The workers are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 and 367 and Teamsters Local 38.
No further talks are scheduled. Results of the vote could be announced Thursday morning.
The last major grocery strike in Western Washington was in 1989.