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Safeway Stocker Reinstated with Back Pay After Wrongful Suspension

“They threw me under the bus.”

Fortunately for Local 400 member Eric Jarrett, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Eric works as an overnight stocker at Safeway #1019 in Alexandria, Virginia. His store is one of the few locations that is supposed to be open 24 hours.

But one night, Eric was instructed to close the store when there was no cashier on duty. Even though he was following instructions, Eric’s manager suspended him and one of his coworkers.

“You have to have at least one checker in the store for it to stay open,” Eric said. “But the guy who normally does the job had hurt his shoulder and was home for two weeks. So the store had to be closed occasionally because we had no checker or because the floors had to be waxed. The store manager knew all about it. When customers started complaining, instead of accepting responsibility, they blamed it on J.P., another stocker, and me. But I am in no position to close the store. I wasn’t the one who decided to do it.”

Eric and J.P. didn’t take this sitting down. They worked with their union representative and immediately filed a grievance and pursued it aggressively.

“I was out of work for three and a half weeks,” Eric said. “Tom [Rogers, his Local 400 representative] spoke on my behalf and did a marvelous job of getting me reinstated as fast as he could. I was impatient and apprehensive, but Tom calmed me down. He knew what he was doing and reached a good settlement.”

Eric and J.P. were reinstated and Eric was awarded full back pay for the time of his suspension and justice was served.

“I’m good where I’m at right now, but as far as I’m concerned, Safeway owes J.P. and me an apology for throwing us under the bus,” Eric said. “Safeway used to be a good company, but they don’t care about their employees, only the bottom line. They’re making lots of money in my store, but they keep cutting back hours and running on a skeleton crew. This company can’t run by itself — they need us. I’m just thankful our union’s got our backs.”

Kroger Tentative Agreement Reached

We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with Kroger on a new contract that we are prepared to recommend for ratification. The offer provides better pay and maintains affordable healthcare.

We are arranging membership meetings to vote on the proposal, at which time we will review the offer in detail and answer any questions you may have. As a member of Local 400, it is critical that you make every effort to attend one of these meetings and cast your vote on your next contract. We will announce the meeting information as soon as possible.

In the meantime, all of the protections and benefits of your current union contract remain in effect.

As always, we will continue to keep you informed every step of the way. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to talk to your shop steward, union representative, or call our headquarters at 1-800-638-0800 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).

West Virginia Shop Steward Hosts His Own Union Meetings at Home

Jim Logan holds a sign at a Kroger rally in West Virginia.

Jim Logan has been a Kroger employee and union member in West Virginia for 42 years. He lives in Caldwell and works in Fairlea, but to people who don’t live there, it’s all Lewisburg – the town with a population of around 3,800 that was named “the coolest small town in America” by Budget Travel in 2011. While Lewisburg may be celebrated for its “breathtaking vistas,” and “eclectic food scene,” the area around it is often overlooked.

“It’s considered a good retirement place, good hunting, good fishing,” Jim says. “You have a wide gamut of people, [you have people] who live at the sporting club at Greenbrier, which is beyond our imagination, and then you have people who are just squeaking by.”

Jim’s coworkers know this better than anyone. “Everyone knows how tight things have gotten in the last ten years,” he says. “And it used to be that it didn’t affect everybody, but no one has any sense of security nowadays.”

But he sees in this economic hardship an opportunity for building solidarity. “Everyone needs to feed a family, and they may differ on certain viewpoints, but beyond that everyone agrees that a livable wage is an important thing, insurance is an important thing,” he says. “We need to focus on those issues and then respect everyone else’s position on different issues, and be willing to allow a diversity of people to come to the table. […] And that’s what the union does in the workplace — it allows people to have a voice in their future. And that’s a precious thing.”

Jim served as a member of the Contract Action Team during negotiations with Kroger last year. “I had really hoped to be at the table negotiating, but instead they put me on the action committee, and I was like, this is not what I want to do,” he admits. “But then I thought, well, if I’m going to be a positive impact, I can’t back down now, I have to do this.”

And he learned a lot in the process, about organizing informational picket lines, connecting with other unions and members from elsewhere, and communicating with customers about workers’ needs.

When the local started organizing demonstrations at Kroger stores throughout West Virginia, Jim and his coworkers were invited to participate at the protest in Beckley, about an hour away. They certainly had cause to demonstrate – turnover was high and only getting higher and many of Jim’s coworkers, especially the younger and newer employees, felt undervalued and disrespected by the company.

Now more than ever, they needed to know that their union was fighting for them and that they could and should participate in that fight. “We just really needed to say, enough is enough,” he says, and they needed to say it in Fairlea.

So they held their own demonstration. “We had a good turnout,” he recalls. “People were coming out on their lunches and breaks and joining in, and it was really well received in the community. [Customers] would literally come up and say, ‘Do you want us not to go in and shop?’ And we would say, ‘No, we just want you to understand what’s going on and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

With mounting public pressure on Kroger, an agreement was reached and a new contract was ratified a few weeks later with zero cuts. This certainly was a victory, but Jim knows there is always more work to be done. And since West Virginia became a right-to-work state in 2016, he’s learning to play a whole new ball game.

“There’s no way someone can just start at a job and grasp all of the dynamics that are involved in having a decent job,” he says. “So [with right-to-work] there’s this huge educational curve, right from the get-go, of what it means to belong to the union and what it can accomplish. And what I’m learning is that in that little 15 minute introduction, without any kind of established relationship with a new person it’s almost an impossible thing to accomplish.”

As an ordained Baptist minister, Jim used to formally pastor a church, but since he’s lived in Caldwell, West Virginia he’s been “unchurching,” or holding services in people’s houses. On Tuesday nights he hosts bible study in his own home, and every once in a while, he hosts a union meeting. Otherwise, Jim and his co-workers have to drive an hour to get to union meetings, which he says can be economically burdensome.

He usually only hosts union meetings at his house for special occasions, but he’s been thinking about hosting more casual get-togethers, “bridge-builders” he calls them, to help create a stronger sense of community in his store.

“It’s probably the direction we need to go,” he says. “Now in an environment of right-to-work, you’ve got those issues of trust and truth again. You can say you care but sometimes you have to show you care.”

With 42 years of experience under his belt, Jim Logan sounds patient, almost calm, but part of what allows him to connect with younger workers is that he remembers how frustrating it was to be in their position.

He has a saying: “A bunch of straws are harder to break than just one.” He knows that all of his co-workers complaints are valid, no matter how long they’ve been working for Kroger, but he also knows that the best way to address them is to stand together.

“I try to articulate it’s a long-term investment,” Jim says about union dues. “And when [new employees] look in that contract they can see some of those better wages, [and realize] that it took everyone a long time to get there but the only way to get there is to stick together.”

Both his patience and his passion are manifestations of how much Jim Logan cares. He says he doesn’t know why he became a shop steward. But then he says, with absolute certainty, “I really care about people. And I’ve got this thing, if someone is an underdog or at a disadvantage, if someone takes advantage of that, that just really lights me up. It’s something in my nature.”

And it’s not changing any time soon. As he looks forward, Jim has a bunch of ideas for how he can better support his fellow union members and build community relationships, both in his corner of West Virginia and throughout the region. He hopes to retire from Kroger soon, but not from union activism.

“If and when I get to retire, I think that then I will become more and more politically active, because the union needs friends,” he says. “And I will do it without compromising, because I’m not doing it for a career or economics, just because it’s the right thing to do.”

Ten Safeway Employees Awarded $11,000 in Back Pay

Alex Falsinotti was awarded more than $1,000 in back pay after Safeway was caught violating the scheduling provisions of his union contract. Nine other Safeway workers were awarded back pay totaling $11,000.

Alex Falsinotti has been working at Safeway #1365 in Fairfax, Virginia for almost two years. Officially he works in the Seafood Department, but on most days whoever is scheduled to work the Meat Department leaves around 2 or 3 p.m., and Alex is forced to man both departments until they officially close at 8:00 p.m.

“I’m expected to clean the counter and help customers and close down the department by myself,” he says. “I try not to get frustrated, but doing this for ten months you get overwhelmed.

Under our union contracts at Safeway and Giant Food, the companies are required to staff the Meat Department from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day. Furthermore, one person cannot be required to close both the Meat and Seafood departments at the same time.

Alex didn’t know this was a violation of his union contract, but he knew it wasn’t right. “I didn’t want to be rude to the manager but I came to him more than once and said, ‘The meat cutter left, is someone else coming?’ And he said, ‘No.’”

Management told him that they were short-staffed and didn’t have anyone that they could schedule to help him out.

This problem came to the attention of his union representative, Bertha McKiver, last October. After visiting several Safeway stores throughout Virginia, including Alex’s store in Fairfax, Bertha noticed a pattern – in store after store where meat departments were supposed to be open and fully staffed, the lights were off and the areas were cleaned up.

Bertha filed grievances at five stores throughout Virginia (#1298, #1331, #4002, #1606 and #1365). As a result of the grievances, Alex and nine other Safeway employees were awarded back pay totaling $11,000 for the hours they should have been scheduled to work. One individual had lost so many hours he was awarded $1,300 in back pay after taxes.

Since Bertha’s success with the grievances against Safeway, several people have called her from other stores with similar complaints. If you work in the Meat or Seafood department at Safeway or Giant Food, report scheduling violations using the form below. You could be entitled to back pay if your manager violated the scheduling provisions of your union contract.

Report Scheduling Violations in Meat & Seafood Departments at Giant & Safeway

Under our union contracts at Safeway and Giant Food,

  1. 1. The Meat Department must be staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day.
  2. 2. One person cannot be required to close both the Meat and Seafood departments.
  3. 3. The Meat Department can only be closed by a Meat Department employee.

Fill out the form below to report scheduling violations in the Meat and Seafood departments at Giant Food and Safeway. A union representative will follow up with you shortly.

  • Please enter your store number or location.
  • Please check all that apply.
  • Please submit any photo evidence of the scheduling violation.
    Drop files here or
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Kroger Contract Extended to August 16

Negotiations with Kroger on our next union contract are still ongoing. We agreed to extend our current contract until August 16, 2018. All of the protections and benefits of your current union contract remain in effect.

We will not be rushed into a bad deal. Our goal remains to negotiate a fair contract with better wages, affordable healthcare and respect for our union.

Sign Up for Text Alerts

As negotiations proceed forward, we will continue to keep you informed every step of the way. Sign up for text alerts to ensure you never miss an update.

To sign up, text Richmond to 698-329. 

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply. You may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698329.

Kroger Is Succeeding, Why Aren’t We?

 

During the four years since our last contract, we have helped Kroger succeed and grow in both Richmond and Tidewater. It is our hard work that brings in customers and keeps them coming back. With that in mind, we went in to this round of contract negotiations expecting that we would be rewarded for our hard work and everything we have done to keep Kroger a top shopping destination in a very competitive market.

Unfortunately, with our contract expiring this coming Saturday, August 4, we are still very far from the fair deal we deserve. We never expect to get everything, but when the company grows and succeeds, we should as well. That means fair pay, affordable health care, access to more hours and full time jobs, the ability to transfer to other Kroger stores in the area, and respect for us and our union.

Despite being far apart, we are not going to be in a rush to get to a bad deal. We are committed to continuing to negotiate with Kroger until we have a deal that we deserve and can recommend for ratification. We are at the table every day from now through the end of the week, including Saturday, and will continue to bargain for the best possible contract.

While negotiations continue at the table, we will continue to rely on your support in the stores. Close to 500 of you have signed letters in the past week indicating your interest in more hours and full time jobs under our current contract. We presented those at the table and to store managers to demonstrate that we need hours to take advantage of the fair pay and affordable health care we have earned. We expect Kroger to give that the serious consideration it deserves.

As we move forward we will continue to be in stores letting you know how you can get involved in making sure that under our next contract we are sharing in the success we have built. That means everyone needs to take action if the time comes. As always we will continue to keep you updated every step of the way.

To stay up to date, make sure you are getting text updates by texting “Richmond” to 698-328.

Print the Flier (PDF)

20180801-Kroger Richmond-Tidewater Update 2

 

Shoppers Members – What the SuperValu Sale Means For You

As many of you likely saw and heard yesterday, SuperValu, parent company of Shopper’s Food and Pharmacy, announced that it is being acquired by UNFI (United Natural Foods, Inc.) for around $2.9 billion. Based on the information that has been shared by the companies so far, they expect the sale to be completed in the last three months of the year.

 

Your collective bargaining agreement continues to protect you under this sale. It states that Shopper’s must have the agreement of any buyer of 10% or more of the Shopper’s stores to take our contract and the current employees as part of a sale. This means that UNFI will be bound by the terms and conditions of the agreement in the same way that SuperValu was. We will do everything we can to enforce that provision of our contract.

 

We fought hard to preserve that successorship language in your agreement during our last negotiations with SuperValu. Your union will continue to fight hard and do everything in our power to protect you and your family as this uncertain and difficult process moves forward. It is times like these when it is more important than ever that we are protected by our union and our union contract. We have a voice in this process that non-union workers do not. Over the last 30 years, Shopper’s has changed hands several time, but we have always maintained our contract.

 

We have been in touch with the company and will continue to be in communication with them to insist that they honor their obligations under our contract. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and our staff, attorneys, and other professionals are prepared to do whatever we can to preserve your jobs and our contract. In the meantime, we will keep you updated through your representatives and stewards, as well as our website, Facebook, and our text message system, which you can sign up for by texting “Shoppers” to 698329.

 

Right now we need to continue to stand together as union members and be ready to do whatever is necessary to protect what we have. Without our union we would be nothing but an afterthought in this deal. With our union and our solidarity, we have the power to fight to preserve our wages, benefits, and jobs. We will work together to make sure that happens.

 

You can read the press release about the sale at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/unfi-to-acquire-supervalu-in-transformative-combination-creating-north-americas-premier-food-wholesaler-300687053.html

 

Kroger Richmond/Tidewater Bargaining Update: Do You Need More Hours?

 

As bargaining for our new contract continues, we are working hard at the negotiating table on the three things we know we deserve and have earned: better pay, affordable health care, and respect for our union. At the same time, we know that in order to take care of ourselves and our families we need to have access to the hours we need to take advantage of fair wages, become eligible for affordable health care, and get the respect we deserve.

 

Over the past several days, we have been out in the stores collecting interest letters from members who want more hours and full-time jobs. Article 11.4 of our current contract outlines the process for making your desire for a full-time job known, and we want to make sure everyone who is interested in more hours has the opportunity to fill out a letter and let Kroger know that we have earned more full-time job opportunities.

 

If you have not had the opportunity to fill out a letter yet, please contact your shop steward or call your representative now so we can make sure you have the opportunity to fill one out as soon as possible. We know that Kroger has been successful and growing over the last four years of our current contract and in order to share in that growth and success we need access to more hours and more full-time jobs.

 

We are going to continue to work at the table, and we need you to continue to stand up in the stores. Sign an interest letter, make sure new employees at your store are joining the union, and if you haven’t yet, sign up for text message alerts so you are the first to get updates by texting “Richmond” to 698-329.

 

We work hard every day and have made Kroger successful in a very competitive market. They have been able to make a profit, open new stores, and buy other chains. We have earned the right to share in that success and are ready to do what it takes to get our fair share and, as always, we will continue to keep you updated every step of the way.

Print the Flier (PDF)

 

 

 

Montgomery General Workers Prevent Major Cuts With New Union Contract

Local 400 members working at the Montgomery General Elderly Care Center in Montgomery, W.Va. recently ratified a strong new union contract after months of difficult, rancorous negotiations.

At the start of negotiations, management presented a list of 34 takeaway proposals.  These included eliminating the workers’ pension, reducing health benefits, cutting vacation time and taking away two holidays.

Needless to say, the workers were having none of it.

“I’ve worked for this company for 30 years and this was the third bargaining I’ve been involved with,” said Pam Barron, a Local 400 shop steward who works in housekeeping/environmental services. “This was by far the toughest set of negotiations, but in the end, we turned it around.”

The workers stood strong in solidarity in opposing Montgomery General’s extreme demands. On Fridays, they are allowed to wear t-shirts to work, so every Friday during bargaining, they wore their Local 400 t-shirts, hats and buttons. They also wore their Local 400 t-shirts to the company picnic.

“Everyone was wonderful and once the company saw we were strong, that helped out,” Pam said. “If we hadn’t gotten a deal, we were ready to strike, too. Cynthia Davis, our other shop steward, was terrific, keeping us all together, fired up and ready to act.

“I think the company also finally realized how hard we work and how dedicated we are,” Pam added. “That’s what led to our contract.”

The final agreement provides for a three percent raise, and it maintained the workers’ pension, holidays and vacations.

“This is a good company and they’ve been good to me,” Pam said. “I just thank God we got through this and hopefully, we won’t have to again. I’m also thankful for our union, which was wonderful every step of the way.”

Dr. Pepper Workers Win Major Wage Increases in New Union Contract

Local 400 members working at the Dr. Pepper plants in Fairmont, West Virginia, and Belpre, Ohio, recently ratified a new union contract that includes the largest wage increases since the facility was organized.

Warehouse workers will receive as much as $3.50/hour more over the four year term of the contract, while drivers and others who are paid by the case or by the mile will also receive large pay hikes. All workers will have a slight reduction in out-of-pocket costs for health insurance in 2019 and the employer has agreed to a 100% match into the 401(k) plan.

“We gained on everything,” said Rod Plauger, a bulk delivery driver and shop steward who organized the plant approximately 20 years ago and served on the bargaining committee. “This gave us more than we ever have.  We got everything we asked for.

“This round of bargaining was a lot calmer than the way things used to go,” he said. “In the past, the company would never give us a penny. The company was doing a changeover with new ownership and that might have played a part.”

Still, the road to a contract was not smooth. In fact, the members rejected the company’s first contract offer.

“Our members are strong-willed,” Rod said. “It was surprising to a lot of people that the first offer was rejected. We were prepared for anything, even a strike. But when we went back to the company, they moved some money around until everybody was satisfied.

“I was very impressed with the way negotiations were handled on our side, and the result speaks for itself,” he added.