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SAFEWAY CONCEDES TO UNION DEMANDS; TEAMSTERS APPROVE OFFER; WORKERS WILL TRANSFER TO NEW WAREHOUSE; BOYCOTT ENDS IN HISTORIC VICTORY

 SAFEWAY CONCEDES TO UNION DEMANDS; TEAMSTERS APPROVE OFFER; WORKERS WILL TRANSFER TO NEW WAREHOUSE; BOYCOTT ENDS IN HISTORIC VICTORY
 SAN FRANCISCO, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- In a "watershed victory" for working families and the labor movement, Safeway and its warehouse contractor conceded to Teamster demands and agreed to transfer all East Bay workers to a new Tracy facility with union wages and benefits. Safeway workers today, overwhelming approved the offer by a 333-55 secret ballot vote at a union meeting in Oakland.
 "It's a complete victory," said Chuck Mack, president of Teamsters Union Joint Council 7. "Safeway never intended to take our workers and never wanted to pay them decent wages. Safeway planned to pay for their new warehouse with money taken out of our pockets."
 The agreement ends a five-week-long consumer boycott by the Teamsters and its supporters in unions, community and religious groups that severely cut sales at stores across Northern California.
 "We won this with public support in working communities all over Northern California," said Rome Aloise, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Union Local 853 in Oakland. "Our members stayed on the job, we didn't lose a dime. And we beat the stuffing out of a major corporation.
 The offer from Safeway and its contractor Specialized Distribution Management Inc., came Friday, one day after Teamsters leaders from Western states met in San Francisco and announced the extension of the boycott to 17 states where Safeway does business.
 "We dragged Safeway and its contractor into this kicking and screaming. It is a total victory for our workers and the public that backed us," said Mack. "When you see those Safeway trucks on the highway, you'll know those are our people driving them," he told a cheering union meeting.
 The dispute began in January when Safeway announced it had contracted with a newly formed, non-union company called Specialized Distribution Management Inc. to operate the chain's new 46-acre center in Tracy. Safeway said it would fire its long-time employees at the two warehouses being closed in Richmond and Fremont, and that some would be selectively hired by SDMI.
 "I am honored to be a part of this," said Patricia Sanchez, a 54- year-old Fremont warehouse worker, who helped organize the boycott. "I was told I would never see the inside of that new warehouse. We're going to walk in there and walk in tall because they built it with our sweat -- and we've beaten them with our courage."
 The agreement guarantees jobs and seniority rights to all Safeway workers who wish to become employees of SDMI. Current wage rates which range from $14 to $17.30 an hour will continue, along with current health benefits and a transition pension rate through the negotiation of a new agreement.
 All Safeway employees, should they transfer or not, will share in an $8 million severance package. All unresolved issues will be mediated or put to binding arbitration by an independent third-party. Mechanics represented by the Machinists Union will be covered under the new agreement and will continue to be paid $20.06 hourly.
 The estimated 200 non-union employees already hired by SDMI will become Teamsters under the new contract. Initially, SDMI began hiring those workers for as little as $7.50 an hour.
 The dispute began in July 11, 1988, when fire destroyed part of Safeway's Richmond warehouse. Safeway subsequently announced that it would transfer operations to a new location in Tracy. In December 1991, Safeway made a substandard contract offer that union leaders said was designed to be rejected, and workers voted it down in January.
 Safeway then announced it had hired SDMI to run the Tracy warehouse in what the union called a conspiracy to hire a new low-wage work force. With the Teamster agreement set to expire April 30, Safeway said it would open the Tracy facility May 1. The boycott began March 21 and was extended to 50 Northern California stores.
 Safeway's contractor SDMI then offered another substandard proposal, claiming it was the "last offer." It was rejected by a 425-10 vote on April 12. Meanwhile, Safeway began laying off hundreds of store clerks and reducing hours of many more. The chain attacked back with hundreds of thousands of dollars in full-page newspaper ads. The boycott grew.
 "We not only saved our jobs, but we organized a new plant with new employees," said Mack.
 -0- 4/26/92
 /CONTACT: Toni Delacorte or Paul Shinoff, 415-495-1991, or home, 510-548-8824, Chuck Mack, 510-569-9384, or Rome Aloise, 510-562-9975, all for Teamsters Joint Council No. 7/ CO: Teamsters Joint Council No. 7 ST: California IN: SU:


PS -- NYSU008 -- 2873 04/26/92 17:48 EDT
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Date:Apr 26, 1992
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