NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Tentative deal averts grocery strike here; Bay Area’s BART work stoppage ended by accord

And now, for some good news!

The Unit­ed Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers announced this evening that its nego­ti­at­ing team has been able to reach an agree­ment with Allied Employ­ers on a new (and pre­sum­ably fair) con­tract, there­by avert­ing a strike against Fred Mey­er, QFC, Safe­way, and Albert­son’s stores through­out west­ern Wash­ing­ton.

Mean­while, down in Cal­i­for­nia, strik­ing Bay Area Rapid Tran­sit work­ers are prepar­ing to go back on the job after their union reached an accord with BART man­age­ment, end­ing the lat­est strike that has par­a­lyzed greater San Fran­cis­co.

In a state­ment, UFCW’s nego­ti­at­ing team said:

We are very pleased to announce that today at 5 PM the union mem­ber bar­gain­ing team from UFCW 21 & 367 and Team­sters 38 reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment with the nation­al gro­cery chains in con­tract nego­ti­a­tions. This ten­ta­tive agree­ment has been unan­i­mous­ly rec­om­mend­ed by the union mem­ber bar­gain­ing team.

Details will not to be released until after union mem­bers them­selves have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to review the ten­ta­tive agree­ment and vote on it. The times and loca­tions of those vote meet­ings will be announced in the com­ing days after arrange­ments have been made to sched­ule the votes. [Some union mem­bers have been work­ing past the expi­ra­tion of their exist­ing con­tract; meet­ings will be held for them first.]

Allied Employ­ers affirmed that a deal had been reached:

We are pleased to announce that we have reached a ten­ta­tive set­tle­ment agree­ment with the unions that con­tin­ues to pre­serve good wages, secure pen­sions and access to qual­i­ty, afford­able health care for our employ­ees. Details of the ten­ta­tive agree­ment will not be made pub­lic pend­ing rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

We con­grat­u­late UFCW, the Team­sters, and Allied Employ­ers on their suc­cess­ful nego­ti­a­tions. It seems the threat of a strike had a pos­i­tive effect on the nego­ti­a­tions, and that is what strikes are all about: ensur­ing work­ers have some lever­age over man­age­ment, so they can win a fair con­tract.

Down in the Bay Area, the paral­y­sis caused by Bay Area Rapid Tran­sit going offline is set to end. BART work­ers are head­ing back to work after their union reached an accord with BART man­age­ment. The news was announced by BART Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Grace Cruni­can, for­mer­ly of the Seat­tle Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

We are pleased to announce that we have reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment with union lead­er­ship that will bring the trains back into ser­vice, start­ing tomor­row, while union mem­bers con­sid­er the agree­ment and vote on it.

This is a good pack­age for our union mem­bers while still allow­ing the Dis­trict to make the nec­es­sary invest­ments in our infra­struc­ture. That invest­ment is crit­i­cal to the future of the Bay Area.

We believe the ten­ta­tive agree­ment will allow us to go for­ward with a com­mit­ment to work­ing togeth­er.

I won’t go into details about the ten­ta­tive agree­ment. I will sim­ply say it sets BART on a path of part­ner­ships with union mem­bers and helps us to pre­pare for the future.

This has been a long and dif­fi­cult nego­ti­a­tion. I want to thank the union lead­ers, the medi­a­tors and the BART Board of Direc­tors for the hard work that has gone into get­ting us to the ten­ta­tive agree­ment.

Our thanks to all of you in the pub­lic for your patience through this very dif­fi­cult process.

For their part, the lead­er­ship of the Amal­ga­mat­ed Tran­sit Union said they were glad they were able to reach an agree­ment to end the strike. “We will go back to work and con­tin­ue our efforts to keep the Bay Area mov­ing,” ATU Local 1555 Pres­i­dent Antonette Bryant told reporters at the joint press con­fer­ence.

Strikes are rarely pleas­ant; they often incon­ve­nience peo­ple and dis­rupt rou­tines. But that’s the whole point. Employ­ers don’t want to have to idle fac­to­ries or shut­ter stores. The threat of a strike gives them moti­va­tion to bar­gain in good faith with their work­ers. And the occa­sion­al strike, like the one that just end­ed in the Bay Area, reminds employ­ers that the threat of a strike is not an idle one.

Thank­ful­ly, UFCW and the Team­sters did­n’t actu­al­ly need to go on strike to win a decent con­tract this time, and that’s some­thing we can all cel­e­brate.

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