Business

Fred Meyer, grocery union reach settlement, strike over after less than a day

(Update: Clarifying walkout is not at all stores, focused on unfair labor practice claims)

Stores affected by walkout remain open for business, officials say

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The union for thousands of Fred Meyer grocery workers in Bend, Portland and two other Oregon locations reached a tentative settlement late Friday night, ending a planned week-long strike over alleged unfair labor practices after less than a day.

Here’s the announcement issued late Friday night by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555:

A Settlement with Fred Meyer and QFC has been Reached

Tigard, Oregon – With overwhelming support from the community, your UFCW Local 555 Retail Negotiating Committee and the representatives Fred Meyer & QFC have reached a Fully Recommended Comprehensive Tentative Agreement for Local 555 members working under the Grocery, Meat, CCK, and Non-Food contracts in Oregon and SW Washington.

As a result of the Tentative Agreement, UFCW Local 555 is calling off the strike for Fred Meyer and QFC that was scheduled to run through Christmas Eve.

We are pleased that Fred Meyer and QFC have recognized the ongoing hazard to its workers, with a settlement agreement that provides significant wage increases, added workplace protections, a secure retirement, and quality healthcare.

Details of the Tentative Agreement will be made public after members have had a chance to review the agreement and vote on it. Dates and times for ratification meetings will be forthcoming.

We want to thank all of our community friends and allies for standing with essential workers at a critical time in their lives. This agreement, if ratified, will positively impact the amazing members of UFCW Local 555 and their families.

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About Local 555: United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 represents over 29,000 workers in Oregon, Southwestern Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming. Our membership consists of workers in retail, manufacturing, health care and many other industries. We are a diverse group of workers that have grown into being the largest private sector labor union in Oregon. Local 555 has a rich history dating back to 1936. Our Local is chartered by the UFCW International Union, joining us with over 1.3 million workers across the United States and the World.


Earlier story:

About 20 picketers were lined up walking with picket signs along S. Highway 97 by the Bend Fred Meyer entrance on a frosty Friday morning. They told NewsChannel 21 they could not speak to the media and referred questions to union officials.

Fred Meyer spokesman Jeffery temple said the walkout only was affecting stores in Portland, Newberg and Klamath Falls, a total of 30 Fred Meyer stores and four QFC locations.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 spokesman Miles Eshaia confirmed the strike was only in those four locations, because their contracts expired earlier this year.

“This is an unfair labor practice strike, which is different than a general strike, under the law,” Eshaia said. “There’s a definite beginning and definite end.”

UFCW has contracts across the region, with varied expiration dates. “Typically, one contract’s changes propagate down to all the stores,” he said.

Here’s the Friday morning statement from UFCW Local 555:

UFCW 555 Members at Fred Meyer and QFC will strike at 6am

Tigard, Oregon – Almost a year-and-a-half ago, Fred Meyer and QFC stopped paying hourly hazard pay. In the time since then, workers have continued to deal with the pandemic, while the company has enjoyed record profits. The hazard never ended.

Fast forward to today, Fred Meyer and QFC continue to refuse to deliver the wage increases that workers deserve. We are asking for substantial wage increases to be able to afford to live in the community we take care of. The company is currently offering long term employees a 50 cent raise for the next 2 years, and a 40 cent raise on the third year of the contract. They have not offered any raises for a vast majority of employees.

“After nearly two years of breaking labor law to continue paying their employees less, Fred Meyer has upped the ante by systematically ignoring the law and trampling on employee rights. It’s absurd, and abhorrent.” said Dan Clay, President of UFCW Local 555.

“Fred Meyer’s callous disregard for their own essential workers is stunning considering the sacrifice these employees have made throughout the pandemic. While so many were able to stay safely in their own homes, essential grocery workers showed up to work helping feed our communities. These employers should recognize their sacrifice by treating these workers with the basic respect they deserve,” said Sandy Humphrey, Secretary Treasurer of UFCW Local 555.

On December 17, UFCW Members will be walking off the job in response to the Unfair Labor Practices that Kroger continues to push, preventing our negotiations committee from getting the contract that our members deserve.

“Fred Meyer and QFC’s continual disregard for the rules protecting their employees have left members of UFCW Local 555 with no choice but to take action. All over the country, essential workers are standing up and demanding to be treated fairly. And after facing the pandemic head on, communities are standing with those who stood and risked infection to feed the communities in which they live,” said Miles Eshaia, Communications Coordinator for UFCW Local 555.

The ULP strike will begin at 6 am, on December 17, 2021, and will end at 12:01 am on December 24, 2021.

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About Local 555: United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 represents over 29,000 workers in Oregon, Southwestern Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming. Our membership consists of workers in retail, manufacturing, health care and many other industries. We are a diverse group of workers that have grown into being the largest private sector labor union in Oregon. Local 555 has a rich history dating back to 1936. Our Local is chartered by the UFCW International Union, joining us with over 1.3 million workers across the United States and the World.


Friday morning news release from Fred Meyer:

Fred Meyer and QFC Remains Open for Customers

Strike Follows Fred Meyer and QFC’s Proposed $36 Million Investment in Wage Increases while Maintaining Health Care Benefits

PORTLAND – December 17, 2021 – Today, Fred Meyer and QFC called the decision by UFCW Local 555 to strike our Portland, Bend, Newberg, and Klamath Falls stores “reckless” and urges Local 555 to consider the full implications for its members heading into the holiday season. Fred Meyer and QFC also announced their stores will remain open to deliver on the commitment to provide fresh food and other essentials to the communities they serve.

“At a time when we want to invest more than ever in wage increases and affordable health care, the UFCW has chosen disruption and the unknown for our associates and their families,” said Dennis Gibson, president of Fred Meyer. “We value our associates and thank them for what they do every day for each other and our customers. We are committed to serving our customers, and our stores are open and stocked with fresh food and household essentials.”

Fred Meyer and QFC’s proposed total investment for its more than 5,000 associates covered under this contract includes:

  • $36 million investment in additional wages
  • $30 million in annual contributions for health care benefits
  • $5 million pension investment for retirement

“Our offer respects our associates by significantly investing in their compensation. This includes a $36 million investment in pay raises, health care coverage and a stable retirement – while keeping groceries affordable,” added Gibson.

We have put forward an offer that invests in the whole person with a benefits package that includes market competitive wages, healthcare, a pension for retirement, and on-demand access mental health assistance, career advancement opportunities, industry-leading tuition assistance, scholarships, volunteer opportunities, grocery discounts, and other perks and rewards.

Here are some additional details on our investment:

  • The average hourly wage for an Oregon associate is $17.29 an hour. With our generous health care and retirement packages, average total compensation is $22 an hour.
  • During COVID, our associates earned between $1,100-$1,700 additional in appreciation for their hard work keeping communities running with access to fresh food and other essentials.
  • Eligible Fred Meyer and QFC associates pay just $10 for individual health care coverage, or $25 for family coverage per week. By comparison, the Oregon average per week for individual coverage is $21 and $117 for family coverage according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“While we respect our associates’ rights to participate in this work stoppage, any associate who chooses to continue to work is welcome,” said Gibson.  “We remain open to continuing to meet with the UFCW. Our associates would be better served if the UFCW worked with us to reach an agreement that does not leave our associates without a paycheck during the holidays.”

Learn more at fredmeyercba.com

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About Fred Meyer

Fred Meyer Stores, based in Portland, Ore., offers one-stop shopping at its 132 multi-department stores in four western states. More than 39,000 Fred Meyer associates help customers fill their food, apparel, and general merchandise needs in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Stores range in size from 65,000 to 200,000 square feet and carry more than 250,000 products under one roof.

Additionally, Fred Meyer contributes $5 million to communities across the Northwest each year through grants from the Fred Meyer Foundation as well as product donations, cash donations and sponsorships. Fred Meyer also donates 6 million pounds of food to local food banks each year via the Food Rescue Program. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.fredmeyer.com.


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