August 29, 2007
Puget Sound grocery workers overwhelmingly ratify three-year contract
with grocery employers
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)-represented grocery workers in the Puget Sound area improved grocery jobs for workers and communities when they recently ratified a fair contract with their employers. These UFCW members joined members in Southern California, Texas, Toledo, and Detroit, and New England in recently ratifying good contracts with affordable, quality health care, retirement security, and wages that pay the bills.
Puget Sound grocery workers in UFCW Locals 21, 81, and 44 overwhelmingly approved their three-year contract agreement with three national grocery chains: Safeway, Supervalu (Albertsons) and Kroger (Fred Meyer and QFC).
The new three-year contract agreement includes:
An affordable, improved health care plan, with no-cost preventative care, coverage for same-sex couples and reduced waiting period for children’s coverage, wellness incentives for employees, and lower prescription costs;
Wage increases of up to $1.30 an hour over the term of the contract;
Improvements in sick leave and scheduling practices; and
Pension plan secured with no cuts for the life of the contract.
“The terms of this contract—especially the medical benefits, give me the feeling of great relief,” said Eleanor Knight, a UFCW Local 21 member working at Issaquah’s QFC. “My son and I need good health care benefits. This new plan will make a big difference in our lives.”
“From the beginning, we set very clear goals,” said Dave Schmitz, President of UFCW Local 21. “We met those goals—and more—without taking any steps backwards. There are solid wage increases, a groundbreaking health care benefits package that means better care at lower costs for members and progress on sick leave and scheduling practices.”
Community support and UFCW solidarity was instrumental in securing a fair contract. Over the past five months of negotiations, grocery employees received an outpouring of support from grocery store customers, workers, and community members throughout Puget Sound as well as throughout the country. Tens of thousands signed a pledge saying they would stand up for grocery workers, and religious leaders and elected officials showed up at stores to bolster support for workers.
“”The community stood with these workers because it was the right thing to do,” said Steve Williamson, Director of Strategic Campaigns for UFCW Local 21. ”Standing with grocery industry workers who are struggling every day to make ends meet is critical to the future of our middle class.”
The Puget Sound campaign, representing 20,000 grocery workers in Puget Sound, is part of the Grocery Workers United unity bargaining campaign. Grocery Workers United is a national movement of over 400,000 UFCW-represented grocery workers joining with each other and with community members across the country and in Canada to improve jobs in the grocery industry–one contract at a time.
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