Safeway belatedly responds to rejection of its latest contract offer

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Yesterday, King Soopers formally, and finally, acknowledged that its grocery workers had accepted the company's last, best and final contract offer. But silenced prevailed at Safeway, whose employees turned down pretty much the same deal -- until today.

The firm's release focuses most of its attention on those bargaining units that voted to accept the contract, not the majority who rejected it -- and it doesn't reveal what will happen next. Nonetheless, Laura Chapin, spokeswoman for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, hopes renewed talks can begin soon.

"The other members of Local 7 respect the votes of King Soopers workers," she says. "Now that Safeway's offer has been rejected by their workers four times, they need to extend that same respect and sit down and talk to them."

Any suggestion on Safeway's part that the union hasn't officially asked for such chats is disingenuous, Chapin feels. As she puts it, "The workers just rejected your offer: That would seem to be an invitation to talk. This isn't a White House state dinner. You're not crashing anything. So if they want to talk, that would certainly be welcomed by the workers."

Here's the Safeway release:

More Than a Dozen Safeway Bargaining Units in Colorado Ratify New Labor Contract

Denver, Colo. -- Safeway was formally advised on December 17 by UFCW Local 7 that the following 15 bargaining units ratified the Company's last, best and final offer:

Broomfield Clerks
Castle Rock Clerks
Estes Park Clerks
Evergreen Clerks
Fort Collins Meat
Fort Collins Clerks
Fort Morgan Clerks
Fountain Clerks
Grand Junction Clerks
Greeley Meat
Greeley Clerks
Gunnison Clerks
Leadville Meat
Loveland Meat
Vail Clerks

"We are pleased that some of our bargaining units ratified the Company's last best and final offer and we will implement the terms of the offer for these units," said Kris Staaf, Director of Public Affairs, Safeway Inc.

For the bargaining units that ratified the offer, Safeway employees and the company are assured of a fair contract and labor peace for the next 52 months.

"It's also disappointing that for some reason many of the bargaining units rejected our last, best and final offer," said Staaf. "Safeway's offer contained core economic terms virtually identical to the one ratified by many of the employees of our largest unionized competitor."

The last best and final offer included an attractive ratification bonus for all employees who have been employed for a year or more by the date of the ratification, a 52-month contract term, wage increases, shortened dependent wait time for health benefits coverage and access to a new first class health and care management program. The offer also contains pension improvements over the company's previous offers including partially restored pension accruals.

Bargaining units of nearly 1700 unionized Safeway employees ratified the company's last best and final offer.

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