Unity grocery contract: ratified!

After almost a year and a half of bargaining table meetings, hundreds of hours of negotiations, over ninety strike authorization meetings, and more than thirty ratification meetings, I’m pleased to announce that we have a new contract for everyone who is part of the Unity grocery negotiations. And it’s a good one.

Your negotiation team was made up of members from stores all over Local 555’s jurisdiction representing grocery, meat, CCK, and non-foods. To a person, they were concerned about fair pay and closing the gaps that had been identified; they fought hard to see that happen. Let me tell you about some of these folks and how their participation helped get you this settlement.

Brandon Sweeney and Bruce York both came to the team with concerns around vacation. Brandon had been unable to take a vacation at all over the last year because his requests weren’t getting approved, whereas Bruce had lost vacation at the end of the year because he didn’t use all of it. The settlement improved the vacation approval and usage process, adding timelines and guarantees that will protect not just Brandon and Bruce, but all their union family they were representing at the table.

Dale and Al Cronin wanted to make sure your medical plan stayed well-funded. A decade ago, both were affected by the JLMRT bankruptcy and they wanted to make sure none of their coworkers ever had to go
through that again. The settlement targets reserves at a historically high level, which minimizes the risk of that ever happening again. On top of that there were significant improvements to the dental and vision benefits; plus, we added hearing-aid coverage for the first time.

Ann Poff has worked lower-paying Schedule B jobs for decades and has consistently been denied promotion to higher-paying Schedule A jobs. It has been particularly frustrating for her to then see those jobs typically filled by new employees hired right off the street. This settlement includes new language giving current employees first dibs at better jobs and (if qualifications and skills are equal), making seniority the deciding factor.

Alice Grassl and Jeff Bickler talked about their coworkers who really depended on the medical insurance having lost it simply because schedules or managers dropped their hours below the 80 hr monthly minimum required to keep those benefits active. This settlement includes new language setting a 20 hr per week minimum if an employee has open availability.
This means hundreds of members (and their families) who formerly had to worry about insurance coverage from month to month won’t have to worry anymore.

Bill Deegan works in nonfoods and knows how important it was that Schedule B members and non-foods members get a significant pay increase. Wage increases for journeypersons in this settlement are the biggest we’ve seen in decades no matter the department; however, members in Schedule B and non-foods are getting a premium on top of that to help close the gap and catch them up.

There were twenty other members on the Unity Negotiation Team that I didn’t mention, but their stories matter just as much. They volunteered their time to make their coworkers’ interests heard, they set goals, and they fought to achieve them with you in mind. I’m really proud of the great work they did.

This settlement also happened because union members like yourself talked to coworkers about what needed fixed and how things could be better, stood out in front of stores and leafleted customers, told their stories to the community, stood up for each other and voted overwhelmingly to authorize a
strike, faced off with management in one-on-one meetings and continually fought for a stronger contract.

When people fight not just for themselves but for their co-workers, their families, their friends, and their communities, they win. We fought together for one another and we won.

Well-done, folks.

In solidarity,