Teamster warehouse workers on Wednesday morning overwhelmingly approved a new 6-year contract at Safeway that saves every job and ousts the company that had threatened to eliminate the jobs of over 700 area workers. “It’s a huge win,” said Teamsters Local 730 president Ritchie Brooks immediately after his members voted 205-18 in favor of the pact; in a separate meeting, Teamsters 639 members approved it 123-4. The locals have been battling since last October when Safeway warehouse manager C&S Wholesale Grocers abruptly announced plans to close two Safeway distribution centers in Upper Marlboro and Landover. “The key to our victory was that everyone banded together,” Ritchie told Union City. “Labor, political leaders and the community all came together to show Safeway our solidarity.” While workers gave up some concessions – accepting a $2 an hour wage cut, two paid holidays, straight time on Sundays and paying 20% of healthcare costs – they preserved every job and, most importantly, ousted C&S. Safeway will now manage the Upper Marlboro warehouse (the smaller Landover facility will close and the workers there will transfer to Upper Marlboro). Local and state officials also pledged $1.5 million in financial incentives to keep the warehouse, and the deal also guarantees no outsourcing of jobs during the term of the contract. “Everyone came together and that’s the power of solidarity,” said Ritchie.
photo: At the December Metro Council meeting, delegates sign up for alerts on Teamster negotiations with Safeway; photo by Chris Garlock/Union City