BELMONT (KPIX 5) – Starting Tuesday, Safeway workers are beginning a series of rallies in front of stores all across the Bay Area, as a union canceled its contract with the grocery chain amid ongoing negotiations.

Workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 still need approval from its international counterpart before a walkout. Last week, the union has canceled its contract with Safeway after more than a year of negotiations, demanding higher wages and more fulltime opportunities.

Recently, 95 percent of the union’s 14,000 members who work for Safeway voted in favor of a strike authorization.

The union said management continues to demand a classification scheme that would lower the top wage rate for the current apprentice clerks, creating a 13,000 hour progression step system that would force most employees to work up to 8 years before reaching the top rate of pay.

With the increasing cost of living in the Bay Area, workers said say that is unacceptable.

In a statement to KPIX 5, Safeway said they remain “committed to bargaining in good faith with the union to reach an agreement that will provide employees a competitive compensation package, maintain affordable health care, and provide a pension for their retirement, while allowing our company to stay competitive in the Northern California market.”

“We have scheduled further bargaining sessions with UFCW Local 5 and we look forward continuing our efforts to negotiate new contracts that are fair for both our employees and the company,” the grocery chain went on to say.

The first rally is scheduled at the store in Belmont on Tuesday afternoon, followed by rallies in Campbell, Oakland and Pleasant Hill in the coming days, according to union officials.

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