Early Wednesday morning, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445 who work at the Hannaford Distribution center here launched a 24-hour strike in an effort "to secure a fair deal that improves their lives, strengthens their communities and protects future workers," according to a press release from the union.

"After weeks of bargaining, the current three-year contract expired last Saturday with disappointing and unacceptable movement from Hannaford in key important economic areas," the union said.

The distribution center is located at 54 Hemco Road in South Portland.

According to the union's press release, "Hannaford’s foreign owner Delhaize merged with foreign grocery giant Ahold in 2016 to create one of the largest grocery chains in the United States known as Ahold Delhaize. They operate grocery such chains as Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Food Lion. Ahold Delhaize’s fourth-quarter sales rose to nearly $20 billion in 2017, and the company has recently spent billions more buying back their own stock. However, despite this success, Hannaford is refusing to move in areas that will improve the livelihoods of their Maine workers who have made this distribution center one of the most successful and productive in the entire country."

Bob LaBrecque of Biddeford, a UFCW Local 1445 member and 30-year employee at the Hannaford Distribution Center, said, “Everyone in the Distribution Center works incredibly hard to make Hannaford a success. It saddens us that Ahold Delhaize would prefer to ship more and more profits overseas instead of investing that success in us. We have to take this step in order to secure a bright future for us, the communities of Maine that we live in, and to protect new workers here in South Portland. We are asking for Hannaford to invest in us.”

UFCW Local 1445 represents 15,000 workers in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

Republican Journal efforts to learn whether the strike will affect service or stock at the Belfast Hannaford Supermarket received no response from Ahold Delhaize.