Safeway Employees to Protest Outside Belle View Store
Tuesday's mid-day protest will address unfair contract offers, according to union representing Safeway
Safeway employees are scheduled to picket outside of the Belle View location at noon Tuesday, according to a press release from the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.
Belle View Shopping Center's Safeway was chosen because it is serving as a hiring site in the event of a work stoppage and Safeway needs to hire replacement workers, according to the UFCW.
Safeway workers "will hand out flyers informing customers that Safeway is trying to force them to accept a new contract lowering their living standards — in some cases to below-poverty levels — despite the fact that Safeway is highly profitable," according to the UFCW. "The workers have sacrificed in the past to make Safeway successful and now that the company is thriving, they simply want it to share the fruits of their labors."
The current four-year contract with employees in 127 Safeway stores in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia expires on March 31, according to Safeway spokesperson Greg Ten Eyck.
"We negotiate a new contract every four years and have not had a store employee work stoppage here in this part of the country as far back as I know," Ten Eyck said via email.
Contracts are determined in part based on the economy and changing industry, Ten Eyck said.
"Safeway’s negotiating position and proposals are focused on the same issues and solutions that have been deployed in other contracts across the nation that our company believes will allow it to operate successfully in a competitive marketplace, while continuing to provide our employees with excellent wages and benefits," he said.
Ten Eyck confirmed the Belle View location is recruiting temporary employees as a 'defensive measure' in the event of work stoppage.
"We have an obligation to protect our business by engaging in a reasonable and appropriate level of contingency planning," Ten Eyck said. "This is the same type of contingency planning we undertake in major retail labor contract negotiations throughout the country, and it is virtually identical to the same precautionary steps we took four years ago when we reached a timely and peaceful settlement with the union in this contract.
Safeway managers have threatened to call police on employees in the past, the UFCW said, but Ten Eyck said workers' rights will be respected.
"Safeway fully respects our employees’ right to organize and bargain collectively, and we do not interfere with our employees’ proper exercise of those rights," Ten Eyck said.
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