Increases Wages, Strengthens Health & Retirement Security
Strong Agreement “Tribute to Members’ Activism”
Giant and Safeway workers in the Washington, DC, area represented by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that provides for significant wage increases, improved health benefits and strengthened retirement security.
After lengthy and difficult negotiations in which management proposed dozens of givebacks and workers reached out to customers and the community, the contract contains no concessions affecting current or future members of the bargaining unit.
The bargaining sessions were attended by more than 20 rank and file members, all of whom urged their co-workers to ratify the contract. “I sat across the table from management, I asked the company for a fair contract, and I told them I would do anything to get it,” said Satheria Duvernay, an advisory committee member who works at Giant #773 in Herndon, Va. “I protested the companies’ hiring ‘replacement’ workers, handed out buttons and got pledge cards signed. Now we’ve got a good contract that gets us the fruit of our labors. It took an army of activists to get this done.”
Advisory Committee member Sam Abed, who works at Safeway #945, said “I’m happy with the outcome of this contract. It’s fair and we are glad to have our union team on our side.”
“Our president did something different this year,” said Michele Hepner, an advisory committee member who works at Giant #243 in Stafford, Va. “He invited rank and file members to attend negotiations. I sat across from Giant’s lawyer. Our president stood strong and he protected us. We kept our pension, we kept our premium pay on Sundays and we got our raise. It took a lot of hard work by union members. I think it’s a wonderful contract.”
Key contract provisions include:
➢ Across-the-board wage increases for individuals already at top pay, effective April 1, 2012, that exceed increases in the cost of living for most members. 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.
➢ 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).
➢ Continued retirement security with all current pension benefits maintained and new steps to resolve funding issues for at least the next 10 years.
Concessions demanded by Giant and Safeway that were defeated by Local 400 included creation of a new wage tier for new hires, an increase in health care co-payments, an end to health care Maintenance of Benefits, and treatment of Sunday as part of the regular work week.
The collective bargaining agreement takes effect retroactively on April 1, 2012 and ends on October 31, 2013. Its 19-month duration 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. By the fall of 2013, most unanswered questions about the new law should be resolved.