Giant, union draft pact vote is today; Warehouse scheduling, part-time jobs key issues


Averting what could have been the second strike in a year against Giant Food Inc., the grocery chain and a union representing 1,100 warehouse workers reached agreement on a contract before last night's midnight deadline.

Workers will vote this morning on whether to ratify the proposal, which is being recommended by the 27-member negotiating team of Teamsters Local 730.

Neither side would divulge terms of the contract after emerging from negotiations at the company training center in Greenbelt. Earlier, sources said Local 730 objected to the company's request for flexibility to hire part-time workers.

"The parties have worked hard and done a commendable job," said Leo A. Gant, a commissioner with the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, who said both sides agreed early last week to have him mediate because "they were having some difficulties."

Negotiations likely centered on the union's desire to protect jobs, while the company said it needed to be competitive with nonunion rivals, according to industry observers and union members.

Such issues were at the heart of a five-week strike by Teamsters drivers that ended in January.

In recent weeks, Giant had prepared for the possibility of a strike, stocking stores and arranging for outside deliveries. Talks intensified last week, with negotiators meeting every day since Monday.

The most contentious issues involved part-time workers and scheduling, said one Teamsters member who asked not to be identified. The company wanted the right to hire part-time workers in the warehouse, while the union argued such a move would cut out overtime pay and eliminate full-time positions, he said.

The local also had objected to a company proposal to reconfigure work schedules to 10-hour, four-day workweeks that would include Sundays, said the member, who works at a Giant facility in Landover. The company's other warehouse is in Jessup.

Last year, the 35-day drivers' strike arose over Giant's prerogative to use subcontractors to deliver goods. The drivers' union won a lifetime job guarantee for current members, and Giant won the right to use subcontractors outside Maryland, where it had been expanding.

Pub Date: 11/09/97

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