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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver grocery workers planning to hold strike vote

The Columbian
Published: July 17, 2019, 4:27pm

The local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union is planning to hold a series of meetings for a strike authorization vote in the Vancouver area at the end of July. UFCW Local 555 created a Facebook event inviting all Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway union members in the Vancouver, Longview and Kelso areas to attend one of five meetings at two locations.

At the Hilton Vancouver Washington (301 W. Sixth St.):

• 1 p.m. July 29.

• 6 p.m. July 29.

• 9 a.m. July 30.

At the Red Lion Hotel Kelso-Longview (510 S. Kelso Drive):

• 6 p.m. July 30.

• 9 a.m. July 31.

UFCW Local 555 represents more than 25,000 workers in grocery stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The meetings are part of a series of authorization votes throughout the region as the local branch gears up for a possible strike to protest low wages for workers at the four grocery store chains. The move follows strike authorization votes from seven UFCW chapters in California.

The potential strike is being organized in response to what the union characterized in a July 1 press release as the grocery employers’ unwillingness to “consider the financial hardships consistently demonstrated by their employees.” The union said it has been engaged in contract negotiations for more than a year, but has been unable to reach a deal for new pay rates.

In June, 10,000 of the 555 chapter’s Portland-area members voted to authorize a strike, and the union announced dates for additional authorization meetings in 19 other Oregon and Southwest Washington cities throughout July and August. A final decision about whether to strike will not be made until the votes from all of the meetings are combined and totaled.