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Jewel, Teamsters reach tentative agreement; avert strike by distribution workers

“The situation was not looking good yesterday, and we were literally 15 minutes away from going on strike when the employer finally realized just how serious the situation was,” Local 710 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Cales said.

A Jewel Osco truck is parked near a Jewel Osco warehouse, located at 1955 W. North Ave. in Melrose Park, ll., Thursday afternoon, March 4, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The union representing Jewel-Osco warehouse workers and delivery drivers reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the grocery chain Sunday night, minutes before a strike that could have disrupted deliveries across the Chicago area.

The new five-year contract comes after lengthy negotiations that stretched late into the evening and will still have to be ratified by the 850 workers at Jewel’s Melrose Park distribution center, Teamsters Local 710 said in a statement.

The specifics of the contract have not been made public. A vote is expected sometime within the next two weeks.

“The solidarity within this group is inspiring. The situation was not looking good yesterday, and we were literally 15 minutes away from going on strike when the employer finally realized just how serious the situation was,” Local 710 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Cales said.

“We stood together through the very end, and it will have a major impact for the entire bargaining unit moving forward,” Cales said.

The union said it was fighting for better health care contributions, staffing levels and starting pay for new hires, and claimed that most employees were being forced to work six days a week.

A spokesperson for Jewel did not return a call requesting comment.