Teamsters end strike against grocery warehouse

The Associated Press
Saturday December 02, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO — Union warehouse workers and truck drivers approved a new contract with Summit Logistics on Friday, ending a six-week strike marred by violence that depleted Safeway store shelves throughout the state. 

Teamsters Local 439 members voted 717-404 in favor of accepting a new contract that gives them increases in wages and benefits over the next six years. 

Under terms of the new contract, the basic warehouse rate increases $3.10 per hour over the next six years.  

Pay rates for drivers will increase by nearly 16 percent over the life of the contract. 

The new hire rate was increased by $2.50 per hour to $13.50. 

Summit Logistics also agreed to examine the activity-based pay system that held delivery drivers to strict, time-constrained schedules that the union had sought to end.  

Instead of ending the pay-per-delivery system, Summit managers and driver representatives will form a committee to look into inequities of the system. 

“In ratifying the agreement, the members understand that they have not won either of their two principal demands – the end of the activity-based pay system, and negotiation of new production standards in the warehouse,” officers of Local 439 said in a statement. 

The Tracy distribution facility run by Summit serves 245 Safeway stores in Northern California, Nevada and Hawaii. 

Management at Summit appeared ready to put the work stoppage behind them, release replacement workers Sunday and return to business. 

“We are pleased that the union’s membership voted to accept the contract agreement,” said Summit Logistics president Martin Street. 

“We look forward to having them back at work on Monday.” 

The contract approval should bring a close to a bitter six-week strike that began Oct. 18 and left eight people injured after replacement drivers were pelted with rocks and bottles. 

Summit had offered a 4.8 percent pay raise every year for the next five years, but the union rejected it.  

Summit then rejected two counteroffers from the union, including an appeal for new production standards that Street said would cost the company $60 million in the first year alone. 

With negotiations at a standstill, the strike had some impact on Safeway, leaving some stores with shortages on certain items. Safeway said the Teamsters’ efforts had a minor financial impact on the company, but stressed Safeway had no control over the negotiations. 

During the strike period, video footage of Safeway managers delivering perishables in their personal automobiles raised health and safety concerns, though the grocery chain said the deliveries were short trips and well within allowable standards.