News and Updates
December 18, 2017
UFCW members stood together to negotiate strong contracts this year, and many new members celebrated the benefits of having a first union contract.
The ratification represented the first time in the history of the plant when workers were given the opportunity to vote on the terms and conditions of their employment. The four-year contract includes significant improvements to working conditions and health care benefits, and places strict limits on when management can require employees to work overtime. The contract also provides workers with four days per year to opt out of mandatory overtime, in addition to two weekends off each month in which they can’t be forced to work overtime.
“For the last 10 years, we saw so many of our benefits taken away,” said Garrison. “But now that we have a union, we’re getting them back again.”
Evan Adams-Hanson, a member of UFCW Local 653 who works as a front end floor coordinator at Linden Hills Co-op workers in Minneapolis joined his colleagues in ratifying a first union contract in September. The three-year agreement includes raises for all employees and paid time off.
“By standing together and voting to approve this contract, we’ve improved our lives and jobs. We chose to do this because we’re committed to strengthening our co-op and community because no one deserves to be left behind or struggle alone,” said Adams-Hanson.
Gilbert Grigsby, a food service workers for the Bon Appétit Management Company in St. Louis was one of 300 members of UFCW Local 655 who ratified a first union contract in November. The workers serve the students of Washington University, and negotiated a three-year contract that includes wage increases, additional vacation days, more funeral leave, improvements to overtime rules, and guaranteed “show up” pay. The contract also gives workers access to the union’s health care and retirement packages.
“This is why we voted to form a union,” said Grigsby. “We wanted better pay and working conditions that we’ve worked hard for, and this contract is the result of a lot of hard work. I’m thrilled to be joining this union with this new contract.”
Here’s a list of the negotiating victories that appeared in OnPoint this year:
December 11, 2017
On Dec. 6, 2,696 UFCW Local 152 members who work at ShopRite stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin. The workers are employed in the meat, seafood, deli and prepared foods divisions of ShopRite.
The five-year contract includes wage and pension increases. The agreement also includes health insurance premium increases for the duration of the contract.
“I am very pleased to secure a new five-year contract extension that runs through 2022,” said UFCW Local 152 President Brian String. “The contract contains a guarantee of 40 percent increases in contributions, if needed, to fund the health and welfare benefits through that time. We also secured wage increases for every year of the contract, as well as increases into the pension plan every year. Language changes resolved outstanding issues regarding overtime and proper payment, and the contract vote was nearly unanimous for an outstanding agreement.”
November 13, 2017
On Nov. 6, approximately 4,200 members of UFCW Local 400, who work at 39 Kroger stores in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract. The contract, which takes effect immediately and extends through August 29, 2020, provides increased pay and maintains healthcare and retirement benefits.
Contract negotiations between UFCW Local 400 and Kroger began in early September, and a team of five Kroger employees led negotiations on behalf of the union. At a time when many retailers are cutting healthcare and retirement benefits, the unionized workforce successfully preserved their benefits while also winning wage increases. The workers attribute their success to weeks of public demonstrations held during the negotiation process.
“I think we made it clear to the company that we were willing to fight to protect our benefits,” said Tami Faulknier, a 34-year Kroger employee who served on the union negotiating team.
“Our customers were overwhelmingly supportive and I think that helped a lot,” said Allen Nuckels, a Kroger grocery clerk from Oak Hill, West Virginia. “I lost count of how many times someone saw us at a rally and stopped to ask me, ‘Are you guys on strike? Because I won’t cross a picket line!’”
“These days, it is extremely rare to ratify a contract without losing a single benefit,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “I cannot overstate how much the support of Kroger customers and the rest of the community made a difference in these negotiations. Together, we were able to preserve healthcare and retirement benefits that thousands of hard-working men and women rely on.”
November 6, 2017
The “Better Deal” proposal on collective bargaining seeks to create a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract. The proposal strengthens penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combats misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors. The proposal also strengthens the right of workers to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions, bans state laws that undermine worker freedoms to join together and negotiate, and provides millions of public employees with the freedom to join a union and collectively bargain with their employers.
The proposal also seeks to streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations, protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings, and use federal purchasing power and policy to help expand opportunities to negotiate.
Perrone’s statement reads as follows:
“We must build an economy that works for all – not just those at the top. By strengthening the collective voice and negotiating rights of workers, the better deal proposal on collective bargaining begins to do just that.
“Our hope is that every member of Congress will support these more modern workplace policies because this is about more than unions, this is about helping their constituents and all hard-working men and women who have earned the right to a better life.”
October 23, 2017
After months of negotiations, around 7,300 Food 4 Less workers in Southern California, who are members of UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442, ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin on Oct. 17. The workers are employed at about 100 Food 4 Less stores throughout Southern California.
The new three-year contract protects our union-sponsored health and welfare and pension plans. The agreement also increases wages, and makes sure our members stay ahead of the minimum wage as it goes up either nationally, statewide, within the county, or locally.
“After six long months of bargaining, the seven locals coordinated together to bargain a great contract for our union family in Southern California,” said Bryan Wynn, director of Region 8. “They stood strong to fight back concessions and to protect the members at Food 4 Less, and I congratulate all of the local union presidents for their leadership and their staff. I’m proud of our members for standing up against our largest employer to make our union family stronger.”
October 16, 2017
On Oct. 3, Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) workers in Madison, Wisconsin, who are members of UFCW Local 1473, ratified a new contract after 13 months of negotiations. The WPS workers administer health care claims to veterans, active duty military, seniors, and customers in the private sector.
The 31-month agreement, which expires on May 31, 2020, provides wage increases based on tenure and increased productivity, while continuing affordable benefits programs that are necessary for the security of members and their families.
“Solidarity of the union membership has prevailed in delivering this contract,” said UFCW Local 1473 President and International Vice President John Eiden. “Our members remain committed to providing the highest quality service to our veterans, active duty military, seniors, and private health customers. Union members are proud to continue to provide this respectful, quality service, including to the many who deserve it most—those who have earned it through their service to our country.”
October 16, 2017
The three-year contract ensures that no one falls below a 7.5 percent increase in wages through the duration of the agreement. The contract also includes a more robust Labor Management Committee, a pilot project to find solutions to the daily overtime many of the workers face, and new membership language that will build a stronger union.
October 2, 2017
Linden Hills Co-op workers in Minneapolis, who are members of UFCW Local 653, ratified their first union contract on Sept. 26. The three-year contract, which began on October 1, includes raises for all employees and paid time off. An overwhelming majority – 85 percent – of Linden Hills Co-op workers voted to join UFCW Local 653 in February of this year.
“By standing together and voting to approve this contract, we’ve improved our lives and jobs. We chose to do this because we’re committed to strengthening our co-op and community because no one deserves to be left behind or struggle alone,” said Evan Adams-Hanson, a front end floor coordinator.
“What we fought for and now have is so real and important to building the better lives we’ve earned and deserve. Our amazing co-op has become even more amazing because we’ll now be able to better serve our community and take care of our families,” said Tracie Lemberg, who works in health and body care.
“As a working parent, having a reasonable and flexible schedule that allows me to spend time with my kids is critical. Thanks to our new union contract, I won’t be penalized for taking time off to attend parent-teacher conferences or caring for my kids when they get sick,” said Heidi Souza, who works in the deli department
“Co-op values are union values, so we feel this contract will only make Linden Hills Co-op and the local community stronger,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “I am inspired by the Linden Hills workers’ courage to stand up. Our union family is proud to help everyone at Linden Hills improve their workplace and raise standards for all retail workers in Minnesota.”
September 25, 2017
On Sept. 14, about 100 members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 who work in the women’s shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue’s iconic flagship store in New York City ratified a new contract that will reverberate nationwide. The hard-fought contract repelled the company’s outrageous demands to eliminate employee commissions when a customer paid with an “earned gift card” or “Saks First” loyalty points – a change which would have slashed employee pay by up to 10 percent. This hard-fought victory is not only a win for members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, but is also a triumph for hard-working Saks employees in stores across the country, as the company has indicated that because of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102’s arguments against these arbitrary programs, it will halt a previously planned nationwide implementation.
Under the new agreement, the company will retain the present commission structure by preserving the union employees’ 10 percent commission on sales of women’s shoes. Further, the union negotiated the right to have employees’ sales goals adjusted to account for their use of vacation and other paid time off. Finally, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 negotiated a contract ratification bonus for Saks’ unionized workforce.
“I am taken aback by the company’s response to our concerns about changes to the commission system and their interest in not just retaining the system in New York but for my friends and colleagues at other stores,” said Gil McGarvey, a Saks sales representative and Local 1102 shop steward and executive board member. “In all my years at Saks, never have I felt more heard by the company – and the union is the reason we were heard.”
“I am exceptionally proud of, and humbled by, the hard work and selfless dedication of our nine member negotiations team,” said Alvin Ramnarain, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102. “This contract is a huge win for both our members, and also for workers across the country who would have received drastic pay cuts. Saks, after speaking with its corporate partners, agreed to back off its demands, and actually informed us that because of the arguments presented at the bargaining table, they would quash this program nationwide. We are grateful that Saks understood that when they invest in their people and let them sell, their business will thrive. This is clearly a case where the union difference will have a positive effect on Saks’ profits, and that’s a win for our members and the company. What is clear today is that when workers stand together, we can win.”
September 19, 2017
After weeks of negotiations, UFCW Local 400 members who work at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores in Maryland and Virginia unanimously ratified a new contract on September 11. The three-year covers 2,500 workers and takes effect retroactively as of July 9, 2017, and expires on July 11, 2020.
The new contract increases starting pay, greatly improves wage scales, and provides for the same health insurance coverage and pension benefits without any additional employee contributions. The contract keeps successorship language, so members will remain employed and covered by their contract if Shoppers or any individual stores are sold. The contract also keeps seniority policies consistent with past practice, contrary to the company’s original demands.
“These talks were very difficult, but our members hung together and made this strong agreement possible,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “We came into this with specific goals. One was to change the hours progression to a monthly progression on the wage scale to get people raises faster than before. Another was to avoid any increase in members’ out-of-pocket health care costs, in contrast to what’s happening with most other employers. A third was to ensure proper pension funding. A fourth was to have a strong successorship agreement so our members will keep their jobs and contract if Shoppers is sold. And a fifth was to maintain seniority. Thanks to member activism, we achieved each of these goals.”
“The bargaining started on June 13th and ended August 24th, and there were a lot of blood and guts out there,” said Mike Rickord, a shop steward who works at Shoppers #2674 in Dumfries, Va., and served on the Contract Action Team. “We heard time and again the wishes of the members to keep everything we have, and we kept each and every one of our benefits, while increasing others. I can testify in front of God and country that this is an excellent contract for the next three years.”
“This was a long and drawn out fight with [Shoppers parent company] Supervalu,” said Diane Nokes, a Contract Action Committee member and shop steward at Shoppers #2625 in Manassas, Va. “I cannot tell you how many times they walked away from the table. We did our very best, worked long and hard, and got a good contract.”
“This is an excellent agreement,” said Debra Coleman, a Contract Action Team member and shop steward at Shoppers #2632 in Forestville, Md. “We worked hard from sunup to sundown, went to sleep and got up early to do it again. We are the union. Member participation was the key to everything.”