“The labor movement backed Initiative 1 because housing costs keep rising faster than wages, forcing more and more workers into housing insecurity,” said Local 367 President Michael Hines at a December press conference.

by Ty Moore, Labor Notes

Grocery and retail workers helped win the strongest tenant protections in Washington state last November for the 100,000 renters in the city of Tacoma.

First we had to beat the mayor’s and city council’s attempt to bring a competing watered-down ballot measure. And then we had to overcome a vicious and deceptive landlord opposition that smashed all previous political spending records in Tacoma.

“We’ve created incredible goodwill in the community just as we gear up for a tough contract fight,” said Michael Whalen, who helped initiate the campaign as a dairy clerk and shop steward at Fred Meyer.

“Members were inspired to take on this fight not only because we have co-workers sleeping in cars; not only because rent hikes keep eating away at bargaining table gains,” said Whalen, a member of Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 367’s executive board and now on union staff. “Solidarity goes both ways, and we’re going to need all of Tacoma to stand with us as we get strike-ready.”

Local 367’s contracts cover more than 7,000 workers at Fred Meyer, Safeway, and Albertsons, as well as many independent grocery stores across six counties. County-wide contracts begin to expire in May 2025, and the union faces a tough fight to win stable, guaranteed hours, safety measures, and pay increases.

Read More