The union representing striking workers at Scan furniture stores and the stores' management have reached a tentative settlement of their eight-month labor dispute that could have the workers back on the job by Monday, a union spokesman said yesterday.
Workers in the Washington and Baltimore areas are expected to vote today on the tentative contract negotiated between Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Greenbelt Cooperative Inc., a 45-year-old consumer-owned cooperative that operates the furniture stores. The agreement was reached through personal talks between company board members, Robert Satake, Scan president, and Thomas McNutt, president of Local 400, union spokesman Neel Lattimore said yesterday.
Neither Satake nor McNutt could be reached for comment. The terms of the agreement as well as the location of the vote were not available.
The strike of 170 sales people, warehouse workers and delivery drivers in Maryland, Virginia and the District began May 2 at 12 Scan stores, after six weeks of bargaining failed. The walkout quickly became a bitter issue for the union and the company, as well as other members of the 110-member cooperative, the largest consumer cooperative on the East Coast.
Unfair labor practice charges were leveled against each other by the union and Scan representatives. In August, representatives of the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the union, charging its members caused property damage and threatened workers who crossed picket lines. Three weeks later, the same regional office in Baltimore charged Scan management with unfairly forcing a contract on the workers and prolonging the strike.
From the outset, union representatives said that the company wanted to cut workers' compensation through pay freezes, a drop in sick pay, the elimination of a sales commission plan that shares all commissions equally among employes and a loss of seniority as a basis for awarding overtime hours.
The company wanted to institute cost-cutting measures, pointing to $400,000 in losses suffered last year from increased competition by other retailers of Scandinavian furniture, especially Scandinavian Gallery and Marlo Furniture. Company representatives said their proposals were aimed at cutting waste and increasing sales incentives.
Union representatives said yesterday that if the contract is ratified today, members could return to work Monday.