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Grocery workers union reaches tentative agreement

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published: September 28, 2019, 1:11pm

Following more than two days of negotiations in Portland, a union representing thousands of Fred Meyer workers reached a tentative agreement with employers.

The details of the agreement will not be released until ratification meetings are held, according to a statement from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555.

At those meetings, you will learn all the details, ask any questions and vote to accept or reject the tentative agreement,” says a post on the union’s Facebook page

The agreement will not become a contract unless a majority of union members vote yes to ratify it. The dates of those meetings haven’t been scheduled. Union president Kelley McAllister said the ratification is generally a two to three week process.

Negotiations ran late Friday night and into Saturday, when the agreement was reached around 9 a.m.

A boycott called for by the union ofFred Meyer stores in Southwest Washington and Oregon, which started Sept. 21 as contract negotiations became more tense, has been called off.

“Our boycott against Fred Meyer was highly effective, due to your hard work in building relationships with your communities, who stood strong and proud with us,” the union said.

McAllister declined to share information about the agreement, stating the desire to keep misinformation from spreading.

“The language in the contract is very important and nuanced, and our members should have an opportunity to ask questions about them before things get out there that are entirely off the mark,” McAllister said, adding that the negotiation team was pleased with the outcome and felt like their concerns had been addressed.

Fifteen months of labor negotiations had not previously resulted in a new contract. The negotiations centered on wages and pay inequities, according to the union.

When the union called for the boycott about a week ago, it marked the first economic action it had taken. Fred Meyer employs roughly 18,000 people at more than 50 stores in the region, including seven in Clark County.

The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month alleging that Fred Meyer officials were pulling workers into one-on-one conversations to discuss the union without a union representative present.

Jeffery Temple, spokesman for Fred Meyer, said those claims were “simply untrue.” He said Fred Meyer’s focus was on reaching common ground and landing on a contract during this week’s negotiations.

Fred Meyer also sought to hire replacement workers at $15 per hour.

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