Workers for the Fred Meyer supermarket chain showed up at its Puyallup warehouse Monday without a contract.
The workers, members of Teamsters Local 117, are continuing to fill orders for now, but they’ve authorized a strike.
They say the company doesn’t take their safety seriously, even though dozens of warehouse workers have been infected and sick with COVID.
“You have a warehouse with 500 people and all the company gives you is a self-monitoring device to check your temperature – it broke in one day,” warehouse worker Yury Silva said. “You know, we work pretty close to everybody. There was a six-foot rule that they said we had, but it was nonexistent.”
Silva, whose job it is to make sure Fred Meyer’s 180 stores have the ice cream you want, points out that workers aren’t striking just yet.
In an emailed statement, a Fred Meyer representative says the chain plans to “pursue a fair and balanced contract that honors associates and keeps the company competitive.”
Teamsters Local 117 represents roughly 500 warehouse workers with Fred Meyer, serving stores in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho.
The vote to authorize a strike, which passed 335-0, came a day after Teamsters Local 174 reached a tentative agreement with Safeway over a three-year contract — presenting a “stark contrast” between the two contract negotiations.
“In negotiations, we’ve seen a tale of two companies,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “With Safeway, you’ve got an employer that praises their workers as essential, then treats them that way by putting forth an excellent contract proposal that members can ratify. Fred Meyer, on the other hand, has been slow to respond to our economic proposals, ignored our safety concerns, and dragged out negotiations beyond the expiration of our contract."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.