Saturday, February 14, 2004
Grocery strike news rundown
There are other signs that the chains want to get the current strike settled before labor disputes erupt elsewhere.
Contracts for 5000 workers at Kroger owned Food-4-Less stores in Southern California were set to expire at the end of February. Kroger agreed yesterday to extend the contract through April. [story]
Safeway has employees working under expired contracts in Arizona and Chicago. In addition, contracts will soon expire in San Franciso, Sacramento, Seatle, and Baltimore. The dispute in Baltimore is already heating up. At a protest yesterday the head of the local AFL-CIO was arrested when he attempted to make a purchase using only pennies. [story]
An article in The Street had this illuminating bit:
"In the next month, it's critical for Safeway to end this [strike] ," said Lou Mellet, a grocery analyst with retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. "It could really mess up the company for the foreseeable future if they don't get it resolved now."
On a conference call with investors and analysts Thursday, Safeway CEO Steven Burd sought to downplay such concerns. Labor issues differ from market to market, Burd said. Just because Safeway workers are on strike in Southern California, doesn't mean that workers in other areas will follow suit, he argued. "I don't think the dots connect in exactly that way."