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About 70 Teamsters walk off job in dispute with supermarket chain

About 70 Teamsters walk off job in dispute with supermarket chain

Maine-based drivers serving New England’s Shaw’s supermarket chain have walked off the job over the lack of a new labor agreement. 

Press reports said the walkout began Monday. An Associated Press report quoted business agent Joe Piccone of Teamsters Local 340, based in South Portland, Maine, as saying 70 drivers and mechanics had gone on strike. 

In a prepared statement released to FreightWaves, the Albertson’s supermarket chain (NYSE: ACI), which owns Shaw’s, put the number of strikers at 65.

“We have been bargaining in good faith with Teamsters Local 340 on a new labor agreement for our 65 drivers and mechanics who work at our Shaw’s Wells Distribution Center and are pleased to be returning to the bargaining table this week,” Albertson’s said.

Several calls to Teamsters officials with Local 340 had not been returned by publication time. The national union directed all queries to the local.

There are no reports of any Shaw’s shutting down because of a lack of products. 

One thing the two sides can agree on is that negotiations aimed at securing a new contract began in August 2020. According to the Albertson’s statement, the two sides had “participated in approximately 20 bargaining sessions with a federal mediator in attendance.” 

An online statement from the union agreed that the talks started last August but accused the company of dragging out the negotiations.

There are no details of what the union is asking for versus what the company is offering. “Our current proposal is consistent with our outlined goal, setting forth industry-leading contract improvements, yet it was not presented to the membership for a vote for approval,” Albertson’s said in its statement. 

“We look forward to our employees returning to work this week,” the company added. 

In the AP story that quoted Piccone, the business manager said, “These guys [Albertson’s] are claiming they have a great offer for us.” But he also charged that a key official involved in the negotiations had left the supermarket chain and that workers are awaiting a new offer. 

In the AP story, Piccone said the drivers who are on strike work out of a warehouse in Wells, Maine. Mechanics are in Scarborough, Maine. Both are south of Portland.

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4 May 2021, 22:03