Grocery workers prepare for strike

SEATTLE -- Grocery store workers in Seattle are busy preparing and prepping picket signs -- the next step before a strike.

“The employers need to drastically change these proposals or we are going into a strike situation,” union representative Tom Geiger said. Geiger said the union and management are still far apart in their proposals. The sticking points remain health care, holiday pay, and wages.

On Wednesday, the two sides are holding their last scheduled meeting. If a deal isn’t reached, the union will likely issue a 72-hour notice to strike. That means as soon as this weekend, shoppers at QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway and Albertsons may have to decide whether to cross picket lines to buy their groceries or shop elsewhere.

The union and management could schedule further negotiations, but that seems unlikely at this juncture.

“I’d go straight into the grocery store,” Kevin, a Safeway shopper on Capitol Hill, said. “It doesn’t concern me at all. I gotta eat.”

Other shoppers, like Kenji, said they would try to avoid picket lines even if it was an inconvenience.

“I would find a different store to shop at that does provide (workers) with benefits for their employees, because it’s what they deserve,” she said.

Geiger said the union is bolstered by the support of 1,000 grocery workers in Mason and Thurston counties that have vowed to join a strike, but he’s not sure that will help in the negotiations. It’s why employees are now working on the worst-case scenario, creating thousands of picket signs and preparing for a strike.