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Grocery workers union never had strike approval

9:21 AM, Nov 9, 2009   |    comments
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The United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW, Local 7 union is locked in a months-long battle over wages and benefits with Safeway and King Soopers.

Unionized Safeway workers in Colorado have voted to authorize a strike, but workers cannot walk out without permission from the UFCW international union.

UFCW Local 7 spokeswoman Laura Chapin told the Longmont Times-Call newspaper on October 2nd, "We do have strike sanction from the international, which is key,".

The international union tells 9Wants to Know investigative reporter Kyle Clark that such sanction is under consideration but has not been granted.

A letter from the international union to local branch on September 15th gives Colorado workers the ability to vote on a "final offer" from the supermarkets, but makes clear the local union "must receive final authorization" before beginning a strike.

Several union members tell 9Wants to Know that UFCW Local 7 President Ernie Duran Jr. told workers that strike sanction had been given.

Duran is contesting the results of a recent union election that unseated him amidst allegations of nepotism and inappropriate spending. Duran and two of his children, who hold key union posts, deny any wrongdoing.

A Nov. 6th letter from the president of the international union, posted on UFCW Local 7's website, urges the local union to seek a "last, best, and final offer" from King Soopers and Safeway.

Union leaders maintain that offer was obtained and voted down by workers in October, satisfying the parent union's requirements.

Strike sanction still was not granted.

A statement on UFCW Local 7's website by a frequently-quoted union member accuses the international union of stalling.

"The International needs to respect our votes and give us the final sanction as soon as possible," wrote union member Arlys Carlson. "We have delivered our part of the equation, and now the International needs to deliver theirs. The International is plauing games with our lives, our futures and our families' needs."

Another posting on the local union's website urged the international union to approve a strike before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

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