In a series of votes this week, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposal and authorized a strike.
Union spokesman Tom Geiger said Thursday that ballots tallied after the final vote Wednesday night in Bellevue showed 94 percent of workers agreed to strike if they cant get an acceptable contract.
He said the union has been negotiating for nine months with a group representing grocery chains in the Puget Sound area. About 25,000 workers have been working under a contract extension that ends Monday.
Members said the companies want to cut pay and health and pension benefits.
The stores, represented by Allied Employees, say their proposal would increase pay and benefits.
When asked to explain the apparent contradiction, Geiger said Thursday that wage scales would actually remain frozen under the latest contract proposal and that extra pay for night work and other special situations would be reduced.
The authorization vote doesnt mean there will be a strike.
Geiger said the union would need to provide 72 hours notice after the contract expires Monday before a strike would be possible.
Contract talks have broken off and have not been rescheduled at this point, Geiger said.
He noted that a separate union representing meat cutters in the grocery stores has also overwhelmingly approved a strike.
The last grocery strike in the region took place in 1989 and lasted nearly three months.
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