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Company and union at an impasse over wages and working conditions, representatives say

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Fred Meyer stores in Oregon and southwest Washington are at odds with the union that represents their workers, who have been working without a contract.

Update: Union ends boycott against Fred Meyer

With a handshake deal in place between employee and employer, a local union is calling off its consumer boycott of Fred Meyer.

Local 555 announced Sept. 28, a "tentative agreement" had been reached by United Food and Commercial Workers and management at Freddy's stores in Oregon and southwest Washington.

"We are now asking all of our supporters to cease the boycott and resume their normal shopping habits, including shopping at Fred Meyer," the union said.

Union officials declined to release the details of the deal, saying it must be reviewed and voted on by its members first, though the collective bargaining team says "all of our concerns" have been addressed.

The closed-door negotiations, overseen by a federal mediator at Local 555's request, stretched through the night Sept. 27, before terms were reached the following morning.

"Local 555 recognizes that this would not have been possible without the support of our community," according to a news release.

Jeffery Temple, director of corporate affairs for Fred Meyer, thanked the chain's employees for working hard every day: "We are pleased to have a tentative agreement that

Posted Sept. 30

Organized labor is turning up the heat after months of contentious negotiations with management at Fred Meyer.

The United Food & Commercial Workers union's latest tactic: a call for an immediate consumer boycott of all Freddy's stores in Oregon and southwest Washington where employees are working without a labor contract.

"If Fred Meyer won't listen to workers' voices, perhaps they will listen to the sound of departments devoid of shoppers," Jeff Anderson, Local 555 secretary-treasurer, said last week.

For the past 15 months, the United Food and Commercial Workers union have leveled claims against the company for what it says are unfair labor practices, low wages and an environment where women are paid less than men.

Fred Meyer officials say gender is not a factor in remuneration, but certain jobs have higher pay scales based on "difficulty" or "scheduling requirements."

The company — a subsidiary of the Kroger brand — pushed back against what it characterized as an "inaccurate" narrative in a full-page ad published Sept. 22 on the back cover of the Oregonian.

"Typically, we wouldn't acknowledge misleading stories, until it becomes personal," Fred Meyer President Dennis Gibson said. "Gender is never a factor in our hiring or compensation decisions for our associates."

This isn't the first sign of tension bubbling up from the rank-and-file. In early September social media lit up with posts about the store's push to hire temporary workers at $15 an hour, which is more than some full-time workers make. Management says that's not a fair comparison, because the short-timers aren't eligible for health care benefits or the pension.

The union subsequently held a "flash mob" style protest on Sept. 13, where employees dressed as Rosie the Riveter at a Fred Meyer superstore in northeast Portland.

Both sides resumed negotiations on Thursday. In a statement released last week, a spokesman for the chain said its locations are operating with "business as usual."

"We love our associates," Jeff Temple, Fred Meyers' director of corporate affairs, said. "The truth is that these actions don't help the negotiation process at all and calls to boycott Fred Meyer hurt associates and their families, customers and communities, and ironically helps competitors, many of which are non-union."


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