September, 2008

UNITED INDIANA GROCERY WORKERS ACHIEVE HIGHER LIVING STANDARDS

(Indianapolis, IN) Workers in Indiana’s grocery industry now have better jobs and a stronger voice at the bargaining table, thanks to a new agreement between UFCW Local 700 and the Kroger Company.

The contract covers 1100 Kroger/Sav-On workers in central Indiana, and includes:

  • Early and significant wage increases and bonuses;
  • Major improvements to health and welfare, with employer contribution increases;
  • Increases in paid holidays, vacations, and personal days.

“I am thrilled,” said Jennifer Keating, Local 700 member and Kroger Sav-On employee.  “I’ve only been with the company a little over a year, and with this contract I’m going to get $2.65 in raises in just one year. And I’ve also gained another week’s paid vacation.”

Marcia Sisson, a pharmacy tech at Kroger Sav-On and UFCW 700 member, agreed. “It’s a great deal,” she said of the agreement, which increases her pay $3 over the contract.

“UFCW Local 700 is part of the Grocery Workers United program, which is leading a nationwide effort to make grocery jobs good jobs,” said UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning. “The UFCW has settled good contracts, the kind that bring good jobs, in cities across the country—including right here in Indianapolis. By uniting workers to bargain better contracts,” he said, “we’re helping grocery workers throughout Indiana turn supermarket jobs into good, middle class jobs—the kind that come with affordable health care, a living wage, and a secure retirement, and that benefit workers and their communities.”

Members are keenly aware of the difference the contract will make to their standard of living. “Gaining this new prescription card will save me hundreds of dollars,” said Miranda Biddle, Local 700 member and Kroger Sav-On employee. “And I gain another $250,000 in coverage and free cleanings, vision and dental improvements, too. I love it!”

“Grocery store workers across Indiana are enjoying better lives because they are uniting to improve wages and benefits in the grocery industry,” said Chorpenning. “And we’re taking that message to every community in Indiana, from Evansville to Fort Wayne.”

DENISON FARMLAND WORKERS RATIFY NEW FOUR-YEAR CONTRACT

(Denison, Iowa) – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 440 and Farmland are pleased to announce a new four-year contract covering the 1,400 workers at the Denison, Iowa, pork processing facility.  The contract was ratified by UFCW Local 440 members during meetings yesterday in Denison.

The new contract includes wage increases that keep Denison workers among the highest paid in the pork industry and provides Farmland with new operating efficiencies.   UFCW and Farmland also found solutions that provide quality, affordable health care coverage for workers and their families.

The bargaining process also produced innovative safety and health language that will keep the Denison Farmland plant one of the safest meatpacking plants in the nation.

Farmland is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

UNITED FOOD AND COMMERICAL WORKERS URGES CONGRESS TO MAKE RETIREMENT SECURITY PART OF FINANCIAL RESCUE PACKAGE

Washington DC — The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is calling on Congress to include pension security as part of the financial rescue package expected to pass by day’s end tomorrow.

Current pension law provides that if a pension plan’s rating slips, benefits of retirees must be cut absent increases in funding. It would be grossly unfair to pensioners if their benefits were cut while a troubled financial institution receives bailout assistance.

The fair course to take would be to temporarily suspend the enforcement of the pension law until Congress develops a plan to allow pension portfolios to return to more normal levels.

This would benefit both union and non-union companies.  It is crucial that any actions taken by Congress do not permanently reduce the pension benefits in an attempt to solve the temporary but serious financial crisis.

The retirement security for millions of workers and their families is on the line.  Congress must be mindful of the long-term implications of the rescue package and how it relates to other regulatory laws that impact workers pensions.  Failure to address the immediate adverse impact of the financial meltdown on pension plans would have disastrous consequences for ordinary working Americans who have an expectation of receiving adequate benefits at retirement.