*Giant Foods workers vote not to strike*
By Deborah Gates Staff Writer
SALISBURY -- There will be no strike for Giant Foods
employees who returned to work Tuesday at the South
Salisbury Boulevard supermarket, the majority of
them favoring a labor contract that won overwhelming
approval by members of the United Food and
Commercial Workers International Union.
"It was worth the wait," said Bryan Littleton, a
worker at the Salisbury supermarket where most
employees are members of the UFCW Local 27.
Union workers approved a new four-year contract with
Giant, owned by Royal Ahold NV and Safeway Inc.,
that includes a $1.50 wage increase during the
length of the contract, an increase in starting
rates for new hires, an increase in employer
contributions to pension funds, advanced scheduling
notices and no reduction in health care coverage.
"I'm happy," said Giant worker Linda Blaher outside
the store Tuesday.
Union members representing about 26,000 employees at
Giant or Safeway stores in Northern Virginia,
Washington and Maryland voted on a contract that
replaced a covenant that expired at midnight
The Salisbury store closed between 10:30 a.m. and
2:30 p.m. Tuesday, allowing workers time to travel
to an American Legion post in Cambridge, where they
joined Giant and Safeway workers in Easton to vote
on a tentative agreement reached during the weekend
between representatives of the UFCW and the
According to workers, all but 15 union members at
the Salisbury store voted to support terms of the
contract that Harry Burton, lead negotiator for the
supermarkets, said would for the first time require
new hires to contribute $5 a week toward their
health insurance premium.
"We adopted cost-cutting approaches by agreement
with the union in the health benefits area; newly
hired people will pay a modest premium. Previously,
most did not pay for health benefits."
Littleton has worked two years at the Salisbury
Giant and said he would not have to pay the
"It was worth the wait; nothing comes out of my
check," he said, referencing contract negotiations
that had been under way since February. "I heard
they were gonna cut that out, but then I heard 100
Burton said the contract also increases the annual
employee out-of-pocket contribution for health care,
from $200 to $300.
Blaher, a Giant employee of eight years, doesn't
mind the additional $100.
"I thought we'd be striking," she said.
# The Associated Press contributed to this report