New Agreement Includes 18% Wage Increase, New Benefits

UFCW Local 400 members working at the ekaterra Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk, VA, voted to ratify a strong new four-year collective bargaining agreement.

This was the first contract bargained with the plant’s new owner, ekaterra, after it was sold by Unilever in 2021. Importantly, it includes strong “Successors and Assigns” language that would bind any future buyer of the company to this collective bargaining agreement.

The new contract:

  • Provides for an unprecedented 18% wage increase over a three-year period.
  • Increases reimbursements for shoes and safety glasses.
  • Adds an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) providing counseling, legal, financial, and a wide variety of other services; death benefits; paid parental leave; tuition reimbursement; and a discount program.

“This contract was due to our strong membership and solidarity,” said Terrell Owens, a Lipton shop steward and Bargaining Committee member who has worked at the plant for 16 years. “We have 80% membership and on the Committee, we stood pat until we got what we wanted.

“It was also a better bargaining process than last time, when we were in the middle of the sale and COVID,” he added. “I think a lot of people are happy with the outcome.”

“I want to congratulate our Lipton members for standing strong and winning wage increases that will put them ahead of inflation and other important benefits,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “And they protected themselves if the company is sold again over the next four years. They showed the power that solidarity has in empowering members to improve their lives.”

Lipton workers organized with Local 400 in 2016 and this is their strongest contract yet.