The 2,200 workers in 25 New Mexico stores represented by the union agreed with the Salt Lake City-based chain to extend the current contract through Aug. 2. After that date either party can cancel the agreement by providing the other party 72 hours notice, according to local president Greg Frazier.
Local 1564 accused Smith’s in a National Labor Relations Board complaint of negotiating in bad faith. The complaint says the company and the union were scheduled to negotiate on consecutive days between June 2 and June 7 in order to reach agreement before the contract expired. The union says that “Smith’s engaged in surface bargaining and consistently refused to engage in economic negotiations” and then terminated negotiations June 4.
Marsha Gilford, Smith’s vice president of public affairs, said in a telephone interview the company believed little progress was being made at the bargaining table and recommended a federal mediator be brought in to expedite negotiations, as had been done during contract talks in 2010.
Frazier said that “it’s a little early to use a mediator” since the company has not proposed new wages and benefits.