Quiet -- too much quiet -- after Safeway's "final" offer to grocery workers

On Wednesday, Safeway made what it termed its "final" offer to employees whose contract expired several months ago. Crisanta Duran, associate legal counsel for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, responded with a statement dismissing the latest proposal as essentially a repeat of one the UFCW found wanting at the dawn of the current standoff. Since then, there's been radio silence from both sides -- but Safeway's latest contract extention expires at midnight Saturday.

Could a lockout happen immediately thereafter? In a word, "yes." There's been no discernible progress in negotiations, with each side seemingly waiting for the other to crack -- and the extensions can't go on forever. No guarantee that the battle will escalate to the next stage this weekend, but with neither side in a compromising mood, picket lines seem more likely than not in the near future.

Look below to read Duran's statement:

September 9, 2009 -- "These are highly profitable Corporations with CEOs making millions - and they are thriving in this economy thanks to the very workers whose wages and pensions they want to cut.

Since negotiations began on April 9, the workers have made numerous proposals in an attempt to meet the Corporation halfway and come up with a fair deal. The Corporation has barely moved or made any fair proposals since April 9, and this proposal is virtually identical to the one workers rejected by more than 90% statewide.

The worker bargaining team has proposed a realistic, reasonable pension schedule that addresses the current problems and would help avoid future ones. But the Corporation keeps moving the goalposts on workers who have been doing their jobs for decades and counting on the secure retirement they have earned. We haven't noticed the CEOs offering to cut their own pensions.

When it comes to health care, it was the workers, not the Corporation, who came up with a new preventative health care package to save both the employees and the Corporation money. The Corporation has made no positive offers and refuses to guarantee workers that their health care premiums won't increase and their benefits won't decrease.

And as President Obama put it in his Labor Day speech, "Few have fought harder or longer for health care in America's workers than you -- our brothers and sisters of organized labor.... some things are worth fighting for."

That includes fighting for a fair contract that includes livable wages, affordable and accessible health care, a secure retirement for Colorado's 17,000 grocery workers and their families. They've earned it and they deserve it."