Members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 working at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy have ratified a new, two-year collective bargaining agreement that raises their living standards, protects their health and retirement security, and is comparable to the contract recently ratified by Giant and Safeway workers.
UFCW reports that the negotiations were lengthy, difficult and contentious, but the strong advocacy of a 20-member Bargaining Advisory Committee made up of Shoppers rank-and-file workers, and the outreach work of the Activist Contract Team (ACT!) forged an agreement that keeps Shoppers workers at the top of their industry.
“This victory is due to the activism of our Shoppers’ members,” said UFCW Local 400 President Tom McNutt. “Their hard work convinced management to withdraw the draconian concessions it tried to make us accept. The result is an agreement that keeps middle class grocery jobs in Maryland and Virginia and lays the groundwork for the company’s future success and profitability.
“I am especially pleased that like our members’ recent contracts with Giant and Safeway, this agreement is one of the few in the country that includes a maintenance of benefits provision requiring Shoppers to contribute whatever it takes to our health and welfare plan to pay all health benefits,” he added.
“This is a first-rate contract,” said Mary Robertson, a Local 400 member who works for Shoppers and served on the Bargaining Advisory Committee. “I sat across the table from management and saw first-hand how the company tried to put the squeeze on us. But they failed and now, with this agreement, we know we’re being treated fairly and that we’re sharing in the success that our hard work makes possible.”
Key contract provisions include:
• Bonuses to be paid within two weeks and across-the-board wage increases to take effect on July 2, 2013;
• Full funding of health benefits with no increase in members’ out-of-pocket costs and improved coverage in areas such as HPV vaccinations and endodontic care (root canals); and
• Continued retirement security with all current pension benefits maintained and new steps to resolve funding issues.
Shoppers’ demands that were defeated by Local 400, according to UFCW, included an end to healthcare maintenance of benefits, treatment of Sunday as part of the regular work week, elimination of daily overtime, and monthly healthcare co-payments by retirees.
The collective bargaining agreement, covering 2,500 Local 400 members, takes effect retroactively July 7 and ends July 7, 2014.