13,000 Fry's, Safeway employees could strike, stores seeking temp workers

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PHOENIX -- Some 13,000 Fry's and Safeway employees could be walking off the job, but many of them apparently do not want to go on strike.

In the meantime, stores are looking for temporary workers, just in case.

It all about contract negotiations that have been going on for the past year.

The sticking point is health-care premiums. Right now, store employees don't pay for health insurance. Under the company's proposed contract, new employees would pay between $5 and $15 per week, depending on the coverage plan. Current employees would not be affected.

Many workers think it's a fair deal and want to approve the contract, avoiding a strike. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99, however, disagrees. The union, which represents hourly workers at both chains, is not happy with the contract and reportedly plans to reject it without allowing member to vote.

Not wanting to strike, especially with the holiday right around the corner, workers are actually planning a protest outside the union's headquarters on Central Avenue later this morning.

The potential strike could happen as early as this weekend. The deadline for contract negotiations is 6 p.m. Friday

Fry's and Safeway want to assure their shoppers that the stores will remain open if there is a strike, which is why they started running ads over the weekend for temporary replacement clerks.

According to the Fry's recruitment ads, wages for temp clerks will start at $9.50 per hour.