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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