Earlier this week we warned you that grocery workers from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 were a hair away from turning the Thanksgiving food shopping experience into a nightmare with a massive strike. Well, nightmares do come true it seems. The union voted overwhelmingly to strike on Wednesday night and 25,000 grocery clerks, cashiers, stockers, produce managers and other employees could walk off the job as soon as Monday.
For the stores and for shoppers, it couldn't be worse. Besides either operating on skeleton staffs or having to hire inexperienced temps, the scene inside the Safeways, Albertsons, QFC's and Fred Meyers potentially affected by the strike could be one of complete chaos and frustration.
The last grocery worker strike was in 1989 and it lasted 81 days.
If that's duplicated, the affects could last well past when the workers finally come back to work.
Stores not impacted by the strike, meanwhile, are likely licking their chops. With dozens of their main competitors slowed or shut down just before the busiest time of the year, they could see a huge influx in customers who want to avoid the picket lines and understaffed aisles and go to a place where there are still butchers to carve them a steak and cashiers to ring them up.
The ball is now in the grocery stores' court.
The workers want better pay and benefits that what's been proposed by the stores. Whether they deserve it almost seems immaterial at this point. With the gauntlet now thrown down, the nine months of negotiations that failed to produce a contract isn't going to cut it.
Something, it seems, has got to give.