Contracts: more than wages and benefits

In October, after 16+ months of hard work and unity, we ratified the strongest contract seen in decades. We said:

  • Yes to historic wage increases
  • Yes to expanding our healthcare
  • And YES to improving working conditions for 18k+ members in ways big and small

Now that we’re several months into enforcing this contract, a few members have taken the time to share their stories.

Tyler Meithof from Albany Fred Meyer shared he “was trained to run the [produce] department in my manager’s absence, and moved into the Grocery department to further my knowledge of running the store. This put me in a position where I was able to do most everything, and I wanted to transfer to Meat to again further my career with the company.” Before ratification, Tyler’s department transfer application was denied. Our new contract features language exactly for this situation: all skills, qualifications, and abilities being equal, employers are now required to select the most senior employee, rather than hiring someone off the street with no experience. Shortly after ratification Tyler reapplied and is now working in the meat department. He says he couldn’t be happier.

Ann Poff of Woodburn Safeway is all too familiar with denied applications. She worked 22 years in the Deli and wanted to move on. A dozen of her applications were denied because she was too valuable to the deli department. Her manager told her, “The only way you’re getting out of the deli is when you retire or die”. Imagine Ann’s satisfaction when she, along with fellow members, negotiated language to ensure no one has to face that again. Ann applied for the first Fresh-cut position that opened after bargaining, and works there now!

Antoinette Reynolds of Hillsboro Fred Meyer was working in the nutrition department. Before the current contract, nutrition department workers were performing the same tasks as workers in grocery for a lower wage. The new contract reclassifies nutrition workers into the grocery contract with the wages they deserve. Antoinette shares that she is looking forward to all the opportunities that the grocery department now offers her and her coworkers.

Tyler, Ann, and Antoinette are familiar with the benefits of a strong union contract like ours. Their stories show that contracts are about more than wages and benefits. It’s about fairness and dignity at work, too. We’re able to enforce fairness and dignity at work in ways that are impossible in non-union stores. And that is something to be proud of.

In unity,

Is there a problem in your store you need help with? That is exactly what your rep is for! If you don’t have their number, go to ufcw555.org/rep-finder to get in touch.