ACME union workers in Pennsylvania could vote to go on strike at a meeting this weekend, as a 60-day period aimed at striking a deal with the supermarket nears its end.
There has been "very slight" progress in contract negotiations between ACME and the union despite more than a dozen sessions since last month, according to Wendell W. Young, IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776.
Young said the big issues -- raises, health benefits and pensions – remain major sticking points going into Sunday evening’s union meeting. Bargaining sessions are set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"My hope is that we can find a solution," Young told NBC10.com. "I’m hopeful but I’m not optimistic."
Union workers have gone more than 2 years without a contract extension. Young said workers have not had a raise in over 7 years, their health fund is in danger of running out of money, and the company is underfunding pensions.
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ACME has said that Local 1776 healthcare costs are higher than for other union locals that represent ACME workers in other states, according to reports.
A company representative told NBC10 in a statement that "both sides are working hard" on negotiations.
"We are optimistic on reaching an agreement that is fair to our associates and positions us for success in this competitive industry," the ACME statement reads.
Back in April, ACME and Local 1776 agreed to a 60-day period for negotiations after ACME had threatened to terminate the contract.
Both sides have offered "relatively minor compromises" ahead of a June 30 deadline, Young said.
He said he couldn’t predict whether workers would vote to authorize a strike if they reject ACME’s latest offer, but he would prepare members for the possibility of a lockout. A third possibility is to continue negotiating.
ACME, whose parent company is New Albertsons Inc., operates 110 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The grocery-store company employs 10,000 people.
Local 1776 represents some 2,900 ACME workers in Pennsylvania.