Contract negotiations are underway for two big grocery supply chains.
This weekend warehouse workers at the Fred Meyer and Darigold distribution centers voted to authorize a strike.
The Fred Meyer distribution center services 180 stores up and down the coast from Alaska to Oregon.
Yury Silva is a 20-year employee of Fred Meyer and said Teamsters Local Union 117 represents 335 members at the distribution center in Puyallup.
Silva said many of the employees work six to seven days in a row and at times up to 14 hours a day.
The current sticking points in negotiations are wages and workers' health and safety.
"They’ve been behind the 8-ball the whole time with this pandemic," said Silva of Fred Meyer. "We’ve had numerous outbreaks in the warehouse. The very first one I think 80 people were gone."
A spokesperson at Fred Meyer said in a statement:
"We will continue to pursue a fair and balanced contract that honors associates and keeps the company competitive. Note that a strike authorization vote does not mean that there will be a strike. We do not anticipate any disruption in service and it is business as usual in our stores."
While there is no formal plan to strike at this time, John Scearcy of Teamsters 117 said warehouse workers can go on strike as soon as Monday.
"I can’t imagine a contingency plan that could be able to fill that void if these workers were to strike and Fred Meyer should not be reckless with that," said Scearcy.
Darigold workers overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike, according to Scearcy, and that group has been working with an expired contract since May. The union represents a few hundred people at the local Darigold distribution centers.
"It’s communities opportunity to say thank you. These folks worked through a pandemic to make sure that our grocery store shelves were full that the product there was safe," said Scearcy.
About 450 Safeway warehouse workers were also negotiating contracts, and on Sunday night the employees overwhelmingly voted to approve the new contract. A union spokesperson said it offers annual wage increases, retirement security and medical protection for retirees.
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