WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - If you’re a regular shopper at any Giant or Safeway store within the D.C region, chances are you’ll have to buy your groceries elsewhere.
More than 25,000 workers employed with more than 280 combined store locations could be going on strike over wages, healthcare and worker pensions.
UFCW local 400, the union representing the workers says, that after five months of talks, both Giant and Safeway are not only insisting on cuts to healthcare funding and retirement benefits but are also proposing a three-year freeze on wages for new hires in D.C. and Maryland at the minimum wage.
According to Jonathan Williams, the communications director for the union, the two companies have also proposed a limit on the number of hours part-time employees can work. The proposed cap of 24 hours per week — would make those workers ineligible for certain benefits.
The union also notes, that proposed new health insurance plans put forward by Giant, that outline large increases to weekly premiums for healthcare would increase out-of-pocket expenses for workers.
Williams said that these proposals are unacceptable, adding that the deals currently on the table are not the ones the union can recommend for ratification.
“We will hold pickets at every store,” said Williams. “In the last week, we have collected signs from every single Giant and Safeway grocery store in the region signed by the workers at that store. We have also collected thousands of Valentine’s cards from customers in support of our members so we feel that if we have to go on strike then we are prepared to do that. It’s not what we want to do but this is our last resort because we have exhausted all other possible avenues.”
FOX 5 contacted both companies for a comment late Monday, but we did not receive a response to our inquiry.
“Giant and Safeway got money to take care of their workers,” said Mamoud Conteh, a shopper at Safeway on Piney Branch Road in Northwest D.C.
“They are making money and they are big companies. People are working 24-hours, most Safeways are 24-hours and those workers, work hard and deserve their money, so give them their money.”
A rally and press conference to announce the date for a potential strike vote is scheduled for Feb.19.