August 1, 2007
Community-Worker Solidarity, Regional And National Support Win The Fight For Quality, Affordable Health Care And A Living Wage For All Workers
Washington, DC—By an overwhelming majority, grocery workers in Southern California represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) ratified a fair contract agreement yesterday with the country’s largest supermarkets: Kroger, Safeway, and Supervalu.
The contract was ratified by an overwhelming margin exceeding 87%, with extremely high membership attendance at the meetings throughout Southern California. All seven United Food and Commercial Workers Local Unions recommended that grocery workers ratify the contract.
UFCW members and their union leaders in Southern California fought long and hard through six months of negotiations for this contract, and it is a major improvement over the previous one. The new four-year contract includes:
- Elimination of the unfair “two-tier” wage and benefit structure;
- Wage increases ranging between $1.65 and $6 over the life of the contract;
- All wages increases retroactive to previous contract expiration in March;
- Increased contributions to secure pension benefits;
- Significant improvements to all health care plans; and
- Necessary funding for health care guaranteed through the contract.
UFCW members owe much of what they’ve accomplished to the solidarity and strength they showed in working together to bargain for a fair contract. Seven UFCW Local Unions in Southern California all worked together in bargaining and coordinating campaign actions and strategies.
Southern California UFCW members also owe their success to the extensive support of community and religious leaders, shoppers, sister unions and UFCW members nationwide throughout the six months of negotiations in their efforts to gain improved health care coverage and fair wages.
Coordinated action with supporters and customers played a pivotal role in gaining a positive settlement. Union members, community members, religious groups, grocery workers, and supporters knocked on thousands of doors, handed out flyers, sent emails and letters of support, wrote editorials, attended rallies and marches, spoke out in churches, and signed pledge cards supporting UFCW members.
“This contract is a major step forward for grocery workers,” said Pat O’Neill, UFCW International Executive Vice President and Director of Collective Bargaining. “But it never would have happened without the solidarity of the UFCW members and their union leaders in Southern California, along with the support of the community. It just goes to show that it pays to be a member of the UFCW.”
The new contract covers approximately 65,000 workers in Southern California. Elsewhere on the West Coast, about 18,000 UFCW members in Washington and Oregon are still fighting for a fair contract with their employers. Grocery workers in Northern California will begin bargaining for a new contract later this fall.
The coordinated effort in Southern California is part of a UFCW nationwide unity bargaining program. By supporting each other regionally and nationally, as well as engaging customers and community members in their struggle, grocery workers are improving grocery industry jobs for themselves and their communities. To learn more about other bargaining campaigns, go to: www.groceryworkersunited.org.