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February 21, 2018

Workers at Hannaford distribution center launch 24-hour strike

Approximately 250 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 walked off the job today at the Hannaford distribution center in South Portland in what the union is calling "a 24-hour strike in order to secure a fair deal that improves their lives, strengthens their communities and protects future workers."

Earlier this week, the union reported that Local 1445's 250 members employed at Hannaford's distribution center at 54 Hemco Road voted to go on strike after their current three-year contract expired on Saturday. In its news release, UFCW Local 1445, which represents 15,000 workers in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, said union workers at the Hannaford Distribution Center at 54 Hemco Road in South Portland voted to reject Hannaford's "last, best offer" for a three-year contract and allow a strike, but did not set a date for one.

Tom Brown, service director for the local, told the Bangor Daily News earlier this week that after weeks of negotiating, Hannaford offered a new three-year contract that included a 50 cent annual wage increase but reduced the starting wage for new hires by nearly $4, offering a starting wage of $16 an hour for new hires, compared to the current starting wage of just over $20 an hour. Local 1445 members also are seeking a higher annual raise and options for less expensive health insurance plans, he said.

The newspaper reported that mediation is scheduled for Feb. 26 between Hannaford Supermarkets and union officials for UFCW Local 1445.

Hannaford, founded in Portland in 1883, was acquired by Delhaize, a Belgian company, in 2000. Netherlands-based Ahold acquired Delhaize in 2016 to become Ahold Delhaize. With 6,500 stores, it is the world's fifth-largest grocery retailer. It also owns the Food Lion, Stop & Shop and other regional chains in the United States.

"Everyone in the distribution center works incredibly hard to make Hannaford a success," said Bob LaBrecque of Biddeford, a UFCW Local 1445 member and 30-year employee at the distribution center. "It saddens us that Ahold Delhaize would prefer to ship more and more profits overseas instead of investing that success in us. We have to take this step in order to secure a bright future for us, the communities of Maine that we live in, and to protect new workers here in South Portland. We are asking for Hannaford to invest in us."

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