Collective Bargaining

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UFCW Local 400 Shoppers Workers Ratify New Agreement

Local-400-Shoppers1-300x168Last week, UFCW Local 400 members working at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy overwhelmingly ratified a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement that increases their wages and maintains their health and retirement security.

The contract culminates a months-long, difficult round of bargaining that required multiple extensions of the old agreement to resolve complex issues, many of which revolved around increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act. The workers’ success was due to a sustained campaign that mobilized support from Shoppers customers and the community, with members of the bargaining advisory committee visiting every store in the area.

“Because our Shoppers members stayed strong throughout this challenging process, they won a collective bargaining agreement that improves their standard of living and keeps their comprehensive health and pension benefits,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “This is a solid contract that compares well to others in the industry, and it’s testimony to the power of member activism. It also gives our members one more thing to be thankful for two days from now.”

“It took a lot of hard work, but we stuck together in solidarity, and it all paid off,” said Jose Mercado who works at Shoppers #2615. “I think it’s a fair and good contract.”

“I feel good about the contract,” said Kevin Freeman of Shoppers #2618. “We touched base on all the issues people had in the stores and it was a good outcome. I was really glad to be on the bargaining team—it was a great group. Now we just have to keep moving forward.”

“We earned this contract through our actions in the stores,” said Chartel Scott, who works at Shoppers #2653. “I’m proud of the strength we showed through this long process.”

“Together with our union leadership we stuck together, didn’t give up, and got the best deal possible,” said Keith DeWitt, who works at Shoppers #2646. “Our hard work has paid off.”

Key provisions of the contract include:

  • Guaranteed wage increases of up to 90 cents/hour over three years, with all of the agreement’s financial benefits coming in the form of permanent raises rather than one-time bonuses.
  • Increased employer contributions to fully fund pension benefits.
  • Health care maintenance of benefits, which ensures that Shoppers will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.
  • Spouses will continue to be covered under the health benefit plan.
  • Overtime will continue to be paid for work exceeding eight hours in any day.
  • Sunday will continue to be treated as separate from the basic work week.

The agreement, which affects 2,500 workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, takes effect retroactively as of July 13, 2014, and it expires on July 8, 2017.

UFCW Local 431 Oscar Mayer Workers Ratify New Contract

2000px-Oscar_Mayer_logo.svg_-300x279UFCW Local 431 at the Kraft Foods-Oscar Mayer workers in Davenport, Iowa, ratified a new four-year contract last Thursday. Members overwhelmingly passed the new contract that covers about 1,200 workers at the plant. They have been working under an extended contract since July.

The contract includes a $1.40 per hour raise over the four years and maintains affordable healthcare. The agreement also includes pension and 401k increases along with improvements in the vacation policy and more vacation days.

Workers at the food processing plant produce bologna, Lunchables, and sliced lunch meats.

UFCW Local 400 Kroger Members Working at Kroger Ratify A New Contract

kroger for blogMembers of UFCW Local 400 voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new, four-year contract with Kroger in the Richmond and Tidewater areas of Virginia. The contract preserves their health and retirement security and increases their wages. The collective bargaining agreement is retroactive to August 3, 2014. It expires on August 4, 2018, and covers 3,500 workers.

The bargaining was difficult and lengthy, but after a sustained campaign of member activism, both on a regional and national level, UFCW Local 400 members were able to win a strong contract. Notably, this contract implements raises based on seniority, abolishing the old system that left raises up to the discretion of store managers. It also includes health care “Maintenance of Benefits,” meaning that Kroger will contribute whatever is necessary to the health care fund to pay all benefits.

“It is the activism of our members, and the solidarity shown throughout the country, that enabled us to achieve these gains,” Federici said. “Their dedication, strength, and willingness to turn up the heat on Kroger at the store level when it was necessary, is the reason why we have this solid contract today—a contract that they not only deserve, but rightfully earned.”

Locally, Kroger members and their allies in the community leafleted stores, gathering thousands of shoppers’ pledges to stand with them through contract negotiations. They also rallied their coworkers at Kroger stores nationwide to wear buttons reading, “Solidarity with Virginia Kroger Workers,” on their aprons and shirts while at work to not only show management they were standing together in the fight for a fair contract, but also showing support for workers at the new Kroger Marketplace stores in Richmond and Virginia Beach.

The fight for fairness and respect at the Marketplace stores is just beginning. Kroger’s new Marketplace stores sell not just groceries but clothing and jewelry. In these new stores, Kroger is not giving employees the opportunity to have a voice at work free from intimidation and coercion. Instead, they are promising higher wages in exchange for a signature on a piece of paper saying they won’t join the union. UFCW Local 400 leadership, Kroger members, and community activists hand delivered a letter the Richmond Marketplace store manager in May demanding an end to these anti-worker tactics.

“It was a long challenging ride to reach this good contract we ratified today,” said Peggy Billie, a Bargaining Committee member who works at Kroger #500 in Richmond. “And we aren’t done. We are going to keep the pressure up on Kroger until our fellow workers at the Marketplace stores have the same rights and protections on the job as we do in other stores in the region and across the country.”

“From what we started with, when the company proposed taking away part-time and spousal health care, we’ve come a long way and on top of that we got some extra money in our pockets,” said Joseph Vaughn, a Bargaining Committee Member who works at Kroger #537 in Virginia Beach. “We have demonstrated that by standing together we are strong!”

“It took us working past the original expiration date, but I’m proud of my coworkers, fellow bargaining committee members, and the leadership of our union, we fought hard and are proud of the agreement we have reached,” said Michael Holcomb, a committee member from Kroger #511 in Richmond.

“Management wanted to take everything away from us,” said Laverne Wrenn, a member of the Bargaining Advisory Committee who works at Kroger #538. “But we showed the company we are strong. We told them we are ready to fight. And that is what made the difference.”

“This contract will enable Kroger to maintain their dominance as the number one grocery retailer, while doing right by the workers whose productivity and customer service have lifted them to the top,” Federici said. “We look forward to implementing it and helping these chains expand their market share.”