News and Updates
December 6, 2016
Over 7,000 UFCW Local 27 members who work at over 80 Safeway and Giant stores in the Baltimore area ratified new contracts on Nov. 16. Both three-year contracts include higher starting pay, wage progression improvements, no cost increases to employee health insurance, and a plan to secure pensions.
For the past 40 years, Giant and Safeway have jointly negotiated union contracts with UFCW Local 27; but this year, the companies negotiated separately. While the companies were more divided than ever, UFCW Local 27 members who work at Safeway and Giant stuck together and engaged with customers and community members for a better contract.
“As always, Giant and Safeway bargaining presents unique challenges that, coupled with the cost of health and pensions, along with increased competition in retail food, made these negotiations more challenging than ever,” said UFCW Local 27 President George Murphy. “But with the hard work and cooperation of the staff of both Local 27 and Local 400, we were able to come up with an agreement that protects and improves our contract, as well as keeping the employer competitive in an ever-changing market.”
December 6, 2016
Members of UFCW Local 23 who work at Giant Eagle joined the Fight for $15 National Day of Action in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29. The Giant Eagle workers are calling on the company to give all workers at all Giant Eagle stores merit raises so that their wages can be brought up to a $15 per hour minimum, chain-wide. The workers are also asking Giant Eagle to give those employees who already make more than $15 per hour an additional $1.50 pay raise.
Three UFCW Local 23 members who work at Giant Eagle were arrested for civil disobedience during the rally.
“When I started working at Giant Eagle in 1970, I made the equivalent of $15.80 per hour,” said Sonny Linden, one of the Giant Eagle workers who was arrested. “Workers made living wages and we could support our families. Employees hired today can’t possibly raise a family on the starting rate of $8.25. Successful employers all over the country—including some here in Pittsburgh—are already committed to $15 per hour. Giant Eagle can do better.”
You can watch UFCW Local 23 members at the Fight for $15 National Day of Action here.
November 22, 2016
Nearly 14,000 UFCW Local 400 members who work at more than 200 Safeway and Giant stores in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia ratified new contracts on Nov. 16. Both three-year contracts include higher starting pay, wage progression improvements, no cost increases to employee health insurance, and a plan to secure pensions.
For the past 40 years, Giant and Safeway have jointly negotiated union contracts with UFCW Local 400; but this year, the companies negotiated separately. While the companies were more divided than ever, UFCW Local 400 members who work at Safeway and Giant stuck together and participated in store actions and engaged with customers and community members for a better contract.
“We came into this bargaining with specific goals,” said Mark Federici, president of UFCW Local 400. “One was to get rid of the hour-based pay scale system and get members more money faster than the previous system. We did that. A second goal was maintaining our health and welfare coverage, and we did that. A third goal was to protect and strengthen our pension fund, and we did that.”
“Bargaining is never easy,” Federici added. “This was especially demanding due to the logistical challenges imposed by the separation of the two companies. We had to address the complexity of ensuring that our pension funds are secure and maintaining our members’ health coverage. We told management we’ve done enough. We wanted to change the hour system to monthly and we succeeded.”
November 1, 2016
On Oct. 15, members of UFCW Local 617 ratified a new five-year agreement with Pinnacle Foods in Fort Madison, Iowa. UFCW Local 617 represents over 400 hourly employees at the Pinnacle Foods Fort Madison Armour Star facility.
The new contract provides significant wage increases for all employees over the life of the contract, including a much faster progression for new hires. The contract also protects pensions for current and future employees, and continues to provide quality, affordable healthcare with no increase in deductibles, copays or out of pocket maximums for the life of the agreement. Other improvements include increased medical leave, and faster 401(k) eligibility with auto enrollment and company match.
The contract continues the high performance, team-based work environment structure that has created a highly skilled and flexible workforce. In addition to a strong base pay, workers have the opportunity to continue gaining more skills and even higher pay.
“Our members are very skilled and talented,” said Robert Cale, vice president of political education at UFCW Local 617. “We have taken on a lot of responsibility within the plant. We are very proud of what we do and the skills we demonstrate to make our facility successful. Our members are also very passionate about our union.”
“We all know the role our union plays in making our facility successful and profitable,” Cale added. “While negotiating our contract with Pinnacle Foods, we were committed to protecting and improving the high quality jobs at the facility. That means good wages, affordable high quality healthcare, and retirement security in the form of a defined benefit pension and 401(k). Without the strong union membership we have, none of this would be possible.”
November 1, 2016
Members of UFCW Local 655 who work at Schnucks in St. Louis ratified a new contract on Oct. 26.
The three-year contract includes wage increases, eligibility to earn up to five weeks of vacation and includes a two week advance notice of work schedules. The new contract also maintains health insurance and pension benefits.
“I’m very grateful we have a new contract. I’m a pharmacy technician at Schnucks, but I was also a member of the bargaining committee, and that was an eye-opening experience,” said Rebecca Garrett. “I have a whole new respect for the process of bargaining a contract. I’m happy we were able to maintain health benefits and I’m especially happy that for the first time this contract has specific language and recognition for pharmacy technicians because we have a very important role in people’s lives. This contract took months of very hard work, and without a union like mine, there wouldn’t be an opportunity to have input at all. This is why I’m a strong supporter of UFCW Local 655. They give us a real voice at work.”
“While this contract does not have everything we wanted, it does represent significant improvements over the last proposal,” said UFCW Local 655 President David Cook. “Our members deserve to be recognized for their sacrifices with a fair contract. The significant concessions from Schnucks shows they understood that and came back to the table with a much better contract.”