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The Seattle Times reports this morning that both labor and management at Seattle area supermarket chains are beginning to make visible strike preparations as negotiations proceed on a new contract to replace the one that expires May 2.

“Yesterday,” the paper writes, “as union leaders bargained with negotiators for Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Albertsons, the chains posted fliers in stores and placed newspaper ads seeking temporary replacement workers in the event of a strike or lockout.” At the same time, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) started scheduling credit counseling and strike preparation workshops for its members.

The expiring contract covers some 16,000 workers at the chains, but also is expected to impact workers at companies such as Metropolitan Markets, which have agreement to abide by whatever deals are struck by the bigger chains and the union.

The focus of negotiations, like virtually everywhere else, is proposals for reductions in health benefits and a two-tier wage structure in which new hires would be paid less than veterans.

Tensions are high because of the four-month strike/lockout that just recently ended in Southern California over the same issues.
KC's View:
No surprise that everybody is playing hardball, but we would be surprised (though not shocked) if there were another strike or lockout. There’s too much for both sides to lose.