TRACY, Calif. -- Members of Teamsters Local 439, Stockton, Calif., could be returning to work today at the warehouse here that serves 245 Safeway stores in northern California, Nevada and Hawaii, pending the results of a vote scheduled for last Friday.
The workers had been on strike for six weeks at the distribution center owned and operated by Summit Logistics here. Teamsters and Summit management reportedly reached agreement following a marathon negotiating session that began Wednesday morning and went on past midnight.
Earlier in the week, Martin Street, Summit president, told SN he had not had a sit-down, face-to-face meeting with Teamsters representatives since the strike began Oct. 18.
SN was unable to reach Street for comment after news of the settlement broke. Teamsters officials were also unavailable for comment, although a strike hot-line informed union members to attend a meeting at state fairgrounds on Friday to learn details of and vote on the agreement.
The Associated Press reported that details of the agreement would not be made public until workers had an opportunity to vote.
Brian Dowling, a spokesman for Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., told SN, "We were prepared for a longer strike, but we are pleased that both parties appear to have settled their differences."
Dowling said the union leadership would recommend its members approve the agreement. "We have every reason to every reason to believe membership will accept it," he said.
During the strike, Safeway adopted self-delivery of certain items, including milk and bread, previously distributed through the warehouse. Asked whether the distribution would return to the Tracy warehouse, Dowling replied, "We'll work all that out once we find out" the results of the union vote on the contract.
During the strike, the warehouse continued to operate, using as many as 1,400 replacement warehouse workers and 250 replacement drivers to perform the work usually done by the 1,600 Teamsters at the facility.
Violence directed at these replacement workers characterized the strike both at its beginning and quite near its end. In the first few hours of the strike, picketing teams tossed bricks, rocks and other projectiles through the windows of vans moving temporary workers to the facility.
The situation settled down for several weeks, until late last month when rocks again were being thrown by picketers at the warehouse entrance. Early last week, Summit obtained a restraining order from a San Joaquin County judge limiting the number of pickets at the entrance to 10. Street told SN the scene at the warehouse had returned to normal by midweek.
The Tracy warehouse opened in 1992 to serve Safeway stores exclusively. Initially, it was managed by Specialized Distribution Management, which negotiated a five-year contract with the Teamsters after a labor dispute.
When that contract expired in 1997, the warehouse was sold to Summit Logistics, a member of Tibbett & Britten, a logistics company that operates distribution facilities for various retailers on a third-party basis. Summit's three-year contract with Local 439 expired in September.
At the beginning of the strike, a union spokesman told SN the two most important issues for the union were hourly pay for drivers and better working conditions in the warehouse.
"Drivers are paid based on the number of deliveries they make, which creates tremendous pressure for them to push themselves and rush from delivery to delivery. Ours is the only contract in the area that does not pay drivers on an hourly basis.
"At the warehouse, the production standards are too high. Those standards are difficult so there's a very high turnover rate as people are fired or disciplined or they quit."