Grocery union workers begin voting on new contract

EVERETT, Wash. -- Mostly all smiles emerged from grocery worker union meetings Tuesday during which members got their first look at a new contract.

The Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers unions finally hashed out the deal with Allied Grocers, which includes QFC, Fred Meyer, Albertsons and Safeway.

"I feel pretty good about it, you know," said Evan Miller.

"Yeah, it's a good contract, definitely," added Janet Burtis.

Once their questions are answered, they decide if it's a good deal and turn in their ballot.

It took more than six months for the two sides to reach this point. Neither side is willing to officially release any information about the contract.

Labor negotiators said they were pleased. Allied released a statement that the agreement "continues to preserve good wages, secure pension and access to quality, affordable health care."

Burtis elaborated just a bit: "We saved our medical and we got an increase in pay and saved our retirement."

Fed up with previous contract offers, 21,000 union members in Western Washington had said they were ready to walk off the job and onto picket lines.

Miller says this deal is better.

"Yeah, I feel pretty good about it and one thing I'm happy about is the strike's over and things are getting back to normal," he said.

Union leaders say they couldn't have reached this normalcy without the real threat of a strike.

"And they didn't even really budge that much until after the strike vote about a month ago," said union leader Tom Geiger. "It was only when that 72 hour clock ticked over."

And now the wait is on for each of the 21,000 members to get the explanations they need about the contract to intelligently cast their vote.

Here's a list of where they're meeting and when:

Tuesday, October 29
Meeting Times: 8:00am to Noon and 4:00p to 8:00pm
Bellevue UFCW 21 Bellevue Hilton
Seattle UFCW 21 Best Western Executive Inn near Seattle Center
Bremerton UFCW 21 Kitsap Conference Center
Tacoma UFCW 367 Hotel Murano

Tuesday, October 29
Meetings start at: 7:30am, 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm
Everett Teamsters 38 Comcast Arena

Wednesday, October 30
Meeting times: 8:00am to Noon and 4:00p to 8:00pm
SeaTac UFCW 21 Doubletree near Sea-Tac airport
Everett/Lynnwood UFCW 21 Lynnwood Convention Center Lynnwood
Olympia UFCW 21 & 367 Southsound Manor Tumwater

Geiger said they hope to have results out to the public on Thursday.