Contract dispute could mean picket lines, shorter hours at Safeway, King Soopers

       A federal mediation team joined contract talks this week between union workers and the management of King Soopers and Safeway. The hope is that a mediator's involvement might help avert a walk-out at the stores that otherwise could begin as early as Saturday, Sept. 11.
       There are two King Soopers and one Safeway on the Westside. Non-management workers in those stores are represented by UFCW Local 7.
       Unionized Albertson's grocery stores in town may also be affected by the contract dispute, but not the Westside store at 4405 Centennial Boulevard, which is non-union.
       A key issue in the strike is management's insistence on the workers starting to contribute to their health plans from their paychecks.
       At Safeway and King Soopers, temporary non-union workers were being trained this week in anticipation of a strike. These workers would fill in - along with management staff and any union members who cross the picket lines - if the two sides cannot reconcile, according to Pete Webb, who is serving as the spokesman for the two stores during negotiations. He added that store hours may be reduced, however.
       The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has assigned two mediators, Regional Director Scott Beckenbaugh of Minneapolis, and Commissioner Christel Jorgenson of Denver, to assist in negotiations. Bringing in the mediators to help move the talks along was approved this week by UFCW Local 7.

Westside Pioneer article