Supermarket strike looms

You may want to stock your refrigerator a little early for that Fourth of July barbecue.

A spokesperson for Queens Village-based Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union characterized contract negotiations with the major area supermarket chains as “not going good,” on contracts that all expire on Saturday, June 26.

Spokesperson Patrick Purcell made the characterization to The Queens Courier during a conversation about an announcement on Friday, June 4, that Manhattan-based Gristedes Supermarkets had reached an agreement with the union to extend their collective bargaining agreement for 90 days.

“They’re letting the big guys do the negotiating,” Purcell said of the major supermarket chains Stop & Shop, King Kullen and Pathmark Stores – owned by The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc, better known as “A&P,” which also owns Waldbaum’s.

The local represents 23,000 grocery workers in the Metropolitan New York area. Contracts with additional employers such as Key Food and Shop Rite, covering an additional 5,000 workers, will expire in September.

A grocery workers strike was narrowly averted in New England this year when workers approved a contract on March 8 – after agreeing to extend the February 20 expiration of the old contract. In June 2006, Local 100 rank and file voted to strike against the major chains in the metro area before settling on a contract.

The last major strike in the supermarket industry was in 2007, when workers in southern California went out for more than four months.