Group of Drivers is First in the Nation to Organize with a Union
Jamie FlemingEmail: [email protected] Phone: (206) 441-6060
(TUKWILA, Wash.) – Almost 70 delivery drivers at Safeway.com voted today to join Teamsters Local 174, a historic victory with potentially wide-ranging effects as these are the first Safeway.com delivery drivers in the nation to vote to join a Union.
The organizing drive, which took place over several months and was spearheaded by Local 174 Organizer Meaza Ogbe and Safeway.com delivery driver Dan Oliver, reached its conclusion today as votes were counted at the National Labor Relations Board.
“This is huge for us. Everyone at this company was a Union member except for us,” said Safeway.com driver and lead Organizing Committee member Dan Oliver. “And it was clear from our compensation, benefits, and the way we were treated at work that not being Union was hurting us. All of that is going to change now.”
“I am so proud of these guys for standing up for their rights,” said Local 174 Organizer Meaza Ogbe. “It takes courage to stand up to your employer and demand respect, and these guys had courage to spare.”
The organizing victory comes at a critical moment in the home grocery delivery industry, as Seattle-based product delivery juggernaut Amazon has recently purchased the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods.
“This is not just a big win for these Safeway.com drivers, but this is a foot in the door for other organizing opportunities in this same industry in the future,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “Home grocery delivery is a growing industry, and from this day forward, it is going to be an industry that includes the Teamsters Union.”
Teamsters Local 174 already represents Safeway distribution center drivers who operate out of facilities in Auburn and Bellevue delivering groceries to stores across the state, along with dispatch clerks and employees at the Recycle Center in Auburn. These members are glad to welcome their new brothers and sisters into the Teamsters Union.
“Safeway drivers and warehousemen in our Local just ratified the richest contract in their history, while these Safeway.com drivers are struggling just to get enough hours to qualify to buy company health insurance,” said Local 174 Senior Business Agent Carl Gasca, who is the business agent for the Safeway distribution center drivers and will be the business agent for the newly-organized group as well. “Now that we are all standing together, I know that we can get a better deal and a better life for these home delivery drivers.”
“I am so excited for what the future holds for us,” said new Safeway.com Teamster Candice Herrera. “There’s nowhere for us to go but up.”
Now that the group has officially voted to join the Teamsters, the next step is for the Union and the company to sit together and negotiate a first contract for the drivers, who deliver customers’ grocery orders from Safeway stores directly to their homes, on a strict timeline to preserve the groceries’ freshness.
“This just-in-time, right-to-your-home delivery system is not just the next step for the grocery industry – it’s the next step for the entire package delivery industry,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “This is the future, and it is a future in which Teamsters Local 174 will be an active participant.”
“This is just the beginning,” he continued. “Other home delivery drivers are watching, and they are going to see how much benefit these Safeway.com drivers will get from being members of Teamsters Local 174. We hope that they will also find the courage to stand up and say ‘I demand respect’ at their workplaces. And if they do, we will be ready to help them.”
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.