Oregon grocery store workers (members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555) have voted to authorize a strike if a deal can’t be struck with chains like Safeway and Fred Meyer.
“Grocery jobs used to be solidly middle-class jobs,” United Food and Commercial Workers spokesperson Kelly McAllister said, according to The Oregonian. “As income inequity gets so much worse, we’re having many workers pushed to the brink of homelessness, as wages remain stagnant.”
The union also seeks to remedy what they view as a gender-based pay disparity at Fred Meyer stores. According to a study commissioned by the union, women were more likely to occupy jobs in lower-paying departments. Fred Meyers maintains that female and male staff are paid equitably for like jobs, and that jobs like overnight freight handling pay more because of the schedule, and other job demands involved.
If there is a strike it will effect Oregon and Southwest Washington.
What’s Happened, and What’s Next
The union and employers have been negotiating since June of 2018. On Saturday, the last local of 92 across Oregon and Southwest Washington voted to authorize a strike if union leaders determine it’s necessary.
On Thursday, August 29, the union and employers will meet in Portland.
Union spokesperson McAllister told the Oregonian there is no current hard and fast deadline for strike, and that a strike is not inevitable.