Maintains Health Benefits, Retirement Security, Standard of Living
CHARLESTON, November 3 — Members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 today voted to ratify a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement with Kroger in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky that preserves their health and retirement security and increases their wages.
The bargaining was difficult and lengthy, largely due to complications and additional costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but after a sustained campaign of member activism in stores, Local 400 members were able to earn a strong contract. Notably, this contract increases wages, for everyone on one wage scale based on the new, higher minimum wage in West Virginia. It also keeps weekly health care contributions the same, with no increases over the life of the contract.
“This contract is an improvement,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Our members will keep their current health care benefits, with no increase in weekly premiums, and won’t be forced onto the often inferior plans offered through the ACA’s health care exchanges. Kroger will pay their share of benefits in full through the life of the contract, our members’ pensions will be properly funded, and our members will all see pay increases.”
“It is the activism of our members, and the support they have from their customers and the community, that enabled us to achieve these gains,” Federici said. “Their dedication, strength, and willingness to turn up the heat on Kroger at the store level when it was necessary, is the reason why we have this contract today—a contract that they not only deserve, but rightfully earned.”
During negotiations, the Bargaining Advisory Committee visited all of the Kroger stores in the region represented by Local 400 to call on their fellow members to take action by signing pledge cards that they “demand a fair contract” to turn in to store management, wearing their gold union shop buttons, as well as their camouflage UFCW Local 400 hats while at work.
“We showed Kroger that we are united—every union button, hat, and pledge card signed was another wave of solidarity sent right to the bargaining table giving our union leadership leverage,” said Tami Faulknier, Bargaining Advisory Committee member from Kroger #768 in Dunbar, WV “By us standing together and taking action in our stores we earned the quality contract we have today!”
“From what we started with, when the company proposed changes to our health care that even they called drastic, we’ve come a long way and on top of that we got some extra money in our pockets!,” said Kendall Moore, a Bargaining Committee Member who works at Kroger #754 in Marmet, WV.
“It took us working past the original expiration date, but I’m proud of my coworkers, fellow bargaining committee members, and the leadership of our union, we fought hard and are proud of the agreement we have reached,” said Fred Meredith, a Bargaining Advisory Committee Member from Kroger #799 in Belpre, OH.
“Management wanted to take everything away from us,” said Theresa Haney, a member of the Bargaining Advisory Committee who works at Kroger #796 in Ashland, KY. “But we showed Kroger we are strong, that we were willing to do whatever it took to get a fair deal at the table, and it is great knowing that we earned this contract together, as a membership.”
The collective bargaining agreement takes effect retroactively as of October 15, 2014. It expires on October 7, 2017, and covers 4,000 workers.