Washington area consumers will pay higher prices for some baked goods this weekend as striking bakers returned to their ovens last night with a new contract.
The price of some store-brand baked products will increase at all 121 Giant supermarkets as the chain's management passes through the cost of its contract settlement with the bakers. But no details were available immediately on the amount of the increases or the products that will be affected.
"There will be some [increases] on the Heidi products but we don't know which ones or how much," said Barry Scher, a spokesman for the chain. Bakery items that might be affected include cakes, pies, doughnuts, pastries and a variety of rolls and buns.
Scher said, however, that housebrand bread prices will remain at thee prestrike level of 34 cents for a family-size loaf. That bread sold under the Giant brand is one of six bakery products covered by the company's self-imposed price-freeze program, which is in effect until Aug. 2.
Representatives of Safeway, which had also been struck, said it will not raise prices on bread or baked goods immediately. But they would not rule out the possibility of price changes on Monday when Safeway sends out its regular weekly price lists to its 130 Washington area stores.
The Safeway house-label bread also sells for 34 cents for a family-size loaf.
Neither chain has had the bargain brands available since May 3, when the bakers went on strike, shutting down the Safeway Bakery and Giant's Heidi Bakery.
Shoppers, as a result of the strike, haven been paying two or three times as much for bread at the two chains. The lowest-priced bread available at one point cost 87 cents for the family loaf compared with the usual 34 cents.
About 450 bakers left their jobs when negotiations for a new two-year contract broke down. A settlement was ratified yesterday by the bakers, who are members of Local 118 of the Bakery, Confectionary & Tobacco Workers' Union.
A critical point in the negotiations was Giant's proposal to create the post of baker's assistant at its 45 instore baking centers. The assistant would help the full-time journeyman baker at each center, Giant said.
But the union balked at that proposal, centending that the pay for the new job was insufficient and that management might try to spread the posts to its two main bakeries.
In the new contract, Giant will be able to have baker's assistance but only at their stores. The union said the pay will be "respectable."
The new contract alsos provides for higher wages and improved benefits for full-time bakers. The average hourly rate under the old agreement was $8.93, officials said.
That will increase 85 cents an hour for the first year of the new contract and 85 cents an hour for the second year, they said. Bakers also won improvements in their pension, health and vacation benefits.
Neither food chain would attach a price tag to the union contract agreement.
"We don't have that figure right now," said Giant's Scher. "And our negotiators have both gone home to get some sleep."