Local grocery workers vote ‘no’ on contract
Across Colorado, City Market agreement approved, Safeway’s denied by workers
December 17, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Grocery workers at Safeway and City Market in Steamboat Springs voted to reject a contract offer with management, but statewide, City Market workers voted to accept a similar offer. Statewide, Safeway workers rejected the offer.
The retail workers at Steamboat's City Market were among just four King Soopers and City Market departments in the state that voted to reject the offer, joining the meat departments in Fort Collins, Greeley and Pueblo. The meat and retail departments at Steamboat's Safeway voted to reject the offer.
Laura Chapin, spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Colorado and Wyoming, said it's now Safeway's turn to respond.
"The workers have an open-ended offer to the company that we will sit down any time, any place, anywhere," she said.
Because City Market and King Soopers accepted the agreement, the workers will be presented with the 52-month contracts.
Longtime Steamboat Safeway worker Jim Engelken said the contract negotiations have not affected the local store.
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"Our disputes with the company have nothing to do with local management," he said.
Engelken said he has worked at Safeway for 35 years and has never personally been on a strike, though he did walk the picket lines at the old Kroger when it was in downtown Steamboat.
"I can tell you that in my experience, every time there's contract negotiations, both sides rattle a lot of sabers," he said. "What I hope happens is they go back to the bargaining table and come up with a better offer."
Engelken said he has not attended any of the bargaining sessions between management and the union, but he said he voted in the decision. Overall, just more than half of the union workers in the Local 7 union voted in the mail-in contract vote, according to a news release from the international union office.
Michael Staley, the Western Slope representative for the Local 7 union, said a strike is not imminent and that the final decision about whether to strike must be sanctioned by the international union office.
No meetings between management and union representatives have been scheduled.