The strike authorization was approved by 98 percent of the union members. It allows the union to call a strike and set up picket lines if an agreement is not reached with employers.
Some 30,000 workers at Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertson's in the Puget Sound region are affected. The vote comes as grocery store workers say they've reached the last straw.
Union members are upset the company wants to reduce holiday pay, hold wages at current rates, and force part-time workers to get health benefits through the new government health care plan.
"The employers ... are all companies with huge sales that have money to pay their CEOs millions. Yet their proposal so far would just cut and take away from their own workers," said Tom Geiger, communication director for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21.
The grocery employer's lead negotiator, Scott Powers, said that the strike authorization vote is "not unusual."
"The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together," Powers said. "The employers are focused on reaching agreement on a fair contract that is in the best interests of their associates, customers and businesses."
Stores throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties could be affected with shorter hours or closing some locations.
This is a developing news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.