Giants and Safeway workers win contract
|April 30, 2012||Posted by Chris Garlock under News, Print Issues, Volume 2, Issue 3 (May/June 2012)|
In a victory that was months in the making, the D.C. area Giant and Safeway workers represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The new contract, agreed upon on April 3, provides significant wage increases, improved health benefits, and more retirement security.
“Our members’ activism and solidarity is why they won one of the best collective bargaining agreements in the supermarket industry,” said Local 400 President Tom McNutt. “Whenever management tried to push us into making more sacrifices, our members made clear on the floor of the store and everywhere else they were willing to do whatever it takes to get a fair deal.”
Key contract provisions include across-the-board wage increases that exceed increases in the cost of living for most members. They also provide full funding of health benefits with no increase in members’ out-of-pocket costs and continued retirement security, maintaining all current pension benefits. There are also new steps in the contract to resolve funding issues for at least the next 10 years. “This is a fantastic contract,” said Chris Bell, a Receiving Manager at Giant 243 in Stafford, VA.
“This is one of the few contracts in the supermarket industry where all pay increases are provided in higher hourly wages rather than a one-time bonus,” noted a spokesperson for Local 400. Concessions defeated by Local 400 included creation of a new wage tier for new hires, an increase in health care co-payments, and treatment of Sunday as part of the regular work week.
The contract runs April 1, 2012, through October 31, 2013. This 19 month period is “due to the uncertainty around implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the health and welfare plan covering Giant and Safeway workers.”
Local 400 represents some 17,000 grocery workers employed at 126 Safeway and Giant stores in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the District of Columbia. “We went to the community, local politicians, church groups, and right to the customers,” said Bell, “and [we] explained what was going on. We asked for their support and everyone rallied around us. Their support made this happen.”