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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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