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Updated: Teamsters at Maine strike return to work, talks resume

Negotiations ongoing for a new contract since August; details otherwise scarce

Photo: Shaw's

Bargaining is to resume Thursday between management and a Teamsters local that went on strike earlier this week.

The drivers serving New England’s Shaw’s supermarket chain walked off the job Monday over the lack of a new labor agreement. 

Press reports say the two sides agreed to resume negotiations and that the walkout ended Wednesday.

At the start of the strike, an Associated Press report quoted business agent Joe Piccone of Teamsters Local 340, based in South Portland, Maine, as saying 70 drivers and mechanics had gone on strike. 

In a prepared statement released to FreightWaves, the Albertson’s supermarket chain (NYSE: ACI), which owns Shaw’s, put the number of strikers at 65.

“We have been bargaining in good faith with Teamsters Local 340 on a new labor agreement for our 65 drivers and mechanics who work at our Shaw’s Wells Distribution Center and are pleased to be returning to the bargaining table this week,” Albertson’s said.

There were no reports of any Shaw’s shutting down because of a lack of products. 

One thing the two sides can agree on is that negotiations aimed at securing a new contract began in August 2020. According to the Albertson’s statement, the two sides had “participated in approximately 20 bargaining sessions with a federal mediator in attendance.” 

An online statement from the union agreed that the talks started last August but accused the company of dragging out the negotiations.

There are no details of what the union is asking for versus what the company is offering. “Our current proposal is consistent with our outlined goal, setting forth industry-leading contract improvements, yet it was not presented to the membership for a vote for approval,” Albertson’s said in its statement. 

“We look forward to our employees returning to work this week,” the company added. 

In the AP story that quoted Piccone, the business manager said, “These guys [Albertson’s] are claiming they have a great offer for us.” But he also charged that a key official involved in the negotiations had left the supermarket chain and that workers are awaiting a new offer. 

In the original AP story, Piccone said the drivers who are on strike work out of a warehouse in Wells, Maine. Mechanics are in Scarborough, Maine. Both are south of Portland.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.