(WASHINGTON) – The Teamsters Union expanded its protests yesterday to five more Safeway stores, after protesting at 12 Washington, D.C., and Maryland stores last weekend. The Teamsters are calling on Safeway to keep its promises and keep good jobs in local communities, following Safeway’s unexpected notice that it plans to sell its local distribution center. The closure will lead to a loss of 900 local jobs right before Christmas.
Teamsters Local 730 in Washington, D.C., represents about 600 warehouse workers at Safeway’s distribution center.
“We are receiving overwhelming support from shoppers who are shocked that Safeway is breaking its promises and abandoning our communities,” said Ritchie Brooks, President of Local 730. “We’ve already collected 10,000 customer signatures on a petition. The community and our union are working overtime to convince Safeway that it should postpone this Christmas holiday massacre and give public officials and the Teamsters six months to work out a way to save these 900 jobs.”
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa has also called on Safeway to delay the closure.
“I am asking you to enact a 180-day moratorium on the closure while your staff, public officials and Teamsters-appointed experts meet to discuss alternatives, with the goal of saving good jobs,” Hoffa wrote in a recent letter.
Safeway built the $91 million state-of-the-art distribution center in 1998, after receiving $14 million in economic incentives from taxpayers and wage concessions from workers. Safeway was acquired this year by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., which merged Albertsons and Safeway.
Linda Booker, a warehouse worker, asked shoppers to sign petitions at Safeway’s Fairwood store in Bowie, Md., yesterday.
“My husband has one kidney and is on dialysis. I told him we’d be fine since I have a good job with healthcare benefits. But after working 14 years, Safeway’s closure is taking that away. I’m here with my 11-year-old son to talk to Safeway shoppers today. After 14 years, I only got 60 days [notice],” Booker said.
Teamsters Local 639 in Washington, D.C., represents drivers at Safeway’s distribution center.
“We appreciate the support we’ve received from UFCW, the Operating Engineers, Jobs with Justice, and all the other unions and organizations who have been helping us handbill,” said Tommy Ratliff, President of Local 639. “We will be out educating shoppers every weekend until Safeway agrees to the moratorium.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.