EUGENE, Ore. -- Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 here -- who are seeking wage parity with their counterparts in Portland, Ore. -- have authorized a strike against three area chains, although no strike deadline has been set. The union's contract, which covers 1,100 clerks and meatcutters employed by 19 units of Albertson's, Fred Meyer Inc. and Safeway, expired Feb. 14. However, negotiations have continued "because we are still hoping for a better offer," John Etten, assistant to the local's president, told SN last week.
cefully months ago. Union workers in Portland get approximately $1 more per hour than those here and in some other areas represented by Local 555 in Oregon, Etten said.
He said the wage disparity with Portland originated in 1985, when five locals in Oregon and two in Washington combined to form Local 555 and accepted the lowest common wage rate among them at the time. Since then, the contracts in Portland and the other cities have generally been similar in wage increases, although the gap has persisted. However, the gap has been eliminated in contracts negotiated by Local 555 in Longview and Vancouver, Wash., Etten said.