News and Updates
February 20, 2018
On Feb. 2, 37 full- and part-time Burlington Coat Factory workers in New London, Connecticut, unanimously ratified a new contract.
The new three-year agreement guarantees $1.30 increase in wages, improved bereavement coverage, nine-day advanced scheduling, and doubled travel pay reimbursement. The agreement also includes an improved grievance procedure and new hire union orientation language that allows the Business Agent to hold quarterly meetings at the store on company time to introduce workers to the union.
February 20, 2018
More than 2,100 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Lunds & Byerlys grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new contract on Feb. 11. The three-year agreement includes an increase in wages and better benefits, and the total economic value of the contract is over $60 million over the first year alone.
The new agreement raises wages for part-time and full-time workers during each year of the contract, and the average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers is $3,708.89.
“This raise will provide more financial stability and economic independence for myself and my family. Since I’m part-time, making more money and only having to work one job makes me worry less each month. It means a lot,” said Taddeo Balma, who works in the produce department of Lunds & Byerlys in Minnetonka.
The contract increases the number and security of full-time positions, and improves the quality of part-time positions. Five hundred and fifteen workers will become regular part-time, which guarantees them increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave for domestic partners, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
“When you are part-time, it comes down to the bottom line. I’m on Medicare, and the dental ancillary benefit is huge. It adds a tremendous value to my life,” said Mary Heintz of the Burnsville Lunds & Byerlys, who will now become a regular part-time employee.
Workers who qualify for the 401(k) retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and Lunds & Byerlys. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.
Workers will also enjoy expanded non-discrimination language that covers gender, gender identification, pregnancy, veterans, and criminal record after employment. Employees who return on breaks from high school and college will retain seniority. New to the contract is automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology is implemented in the store.
“I applaud our members for saying ‘yes’ by voting in this new three-year contract,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “In the 37 years that I have been with Local 653, this contract brings the most dramatic improvements to the most workers that I’ve ever seen. I’m proud that our union bargaining committee worked together with Lunds & Byerlys to make so many working families’ lives better.”
January 16, 2018
On Dec. 29, 24 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Gold Cross Ambulance in Mankato, Minnesota, ratified a new contract. The Gold Cross Ambulance workers are employed as paramedics and emergency medical technicians in Greater Minnesota.
The three-year contract includes wage increases for all members, as well as language updates that improve on-call status and scheduling for members.
January 16, 2018
Members of UFCW 21 who are employed in the registered nurse and dietary services units at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Washington, ratified new contracts by an overwhelming margin on Dec. 21. Harrison Medical Center is an affiliate of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) Franciscan Health, and UFCW Local 21 represents 2,200 members who are employed by CHI.
The 18-month contract for registered nurses and the three-year contract for dietary and service workers include wage increases and maintain healthcare costs this year and in 2019. The new agreements also include staffing language and successorship rights that are critical due to the recent announcement that CHI will be merging with Dignity Health. Members of the professional technical unit recently reached a tentative agreement and will be voting on their contract on January 17.
UFCW Local 21 members at CHI St. Joseph Medical Center, Regional Hospital, Highline Hospital and Harrison Hospital stood together for months to win strong contracts across the Puget Sound, including leafleting, informational picketing, public hearings and community forums.
January 2, 2018
On Dec. 7, 35 members of UFCW Local 919 who work at Community Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford, Connecticut, unanimously ratified a new contract. The CRT workers are employed as general kitchen workers, food preparation workers, cooks and drivers. CRT works with local officials, providers, private funders and the public to address challenges such as hunger, homelessness and unemployment, and helps individuals and families in Hartford take steps toward a healthy and economically stable future.
The three-year contract guaranteed raises for each of the three years for all employees, including the higher paid members that were “redlined” in their previous contract, and allows more members to take advantage of 401(k) benefits. The contract also includes sick leave improvements, a more efficient grievance procedure, as well as improved supplied uniforms for the drivers.
January 2, 2018
Members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Eastside Food Co-op in Minneapolis ratified their first union contract on Dec. 14. The three-year contract includes raises for all employees and establishes a just cause discipline procedure. The Eastside Food Co-op employees voted to join UFCW Local 653 last April.
Eastside Co-op workers were excited about their first union contract.
“With this agreement, we won a stronger voice in the everyday conditions that impact our work environment and our experience working at Eastside—more equitable wages, adequate staffing and training, and timely addressing labor and safety concerns,” said Seth Kuhl-Stennes.
“I’m excited that we’re going to be paid based on our experience, our knowledge and the time we’ve been working here making Eastside successful,” said D.K. Prince.
“I know that we’re leaving a better co-op for future employees and for the community. I think it’s important to work at a place that values workers’ voices,” said M.J. Banken.
Community support for Eastside Food Co-op workers has been steady throughout the bargaining process. “As a longtime member of Eastside Food Co-op, a former EFC board member, and a union member, I am very excited that the workers here will be ratifying their first contract. The success of our co-op is due in large part to the workers’ dedication and hard work, and this contract will ensure that they are treated fairly and with respect. This is truly co-op values in action,” said Joy Anderson.
“I am inspired by the Eastside Food Co-op workers courage to stand up,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “Our union family is proud to help everyone at Eastside to improve their workplace and raise standards for all retail workers in Minnesota.”
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.”