Progress towards a new labor contract between UFCW Local unions and the three major Southern California supermarket chains are moving at a glacial pace. However, the employers propaganda has been heating up over the main sticking point - health care.
In response to UFCW Rallies outside Vons corporate headquarters earlier today, Daymond Rice, a Vons grocery chain spokesman, characterized our unions' health care benefit proposal as "unrealistic." Employers continue to claim that half of the union workers don't contribute to their health benefit package and that is simply not true. The fact is that medical premiums for grocery workers are negotiated as part of their hourly wage package. Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons claim that workers hired before March of 2004 pay no weekly contribution toward health care benefits and that is simply not true. Labor contracts aren't negotiated in terms of premiums but a total dollar amount that is taken out of workers hourly wages. Currently, full-time grocery store workers pay $3.50 that is set aside out of their hourly wage package — or approximately $600 a month for health and welfare benefits. The grocery stores propose to add an additional weekly charge of $9 a week for single coverage and $23 a week for full-family coverage, in addition to cutting other medical benefits in half. It appears that we are closer to a strike than a deal. The clock is ticking.
Negotiations will continue this week with additional dates scheduled thru the middle of July.
On Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 management and your union officially signed the portion of the agreement securing the integrity of your retirement trust fund only.
As we continue negotiations, it is critical that we stand united in defending our health care and wages. Until we secure a fair contract, we cannot waver. We must continue to show our solidarity.
Negotiations with Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons will remain under direction of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Neither side can discuss schedules, locations or information regarding negotiations.
The extension agreements remain in effect.
Stay informed - Check back for the latest negotiation news.
The FMCS is the agency of United States Government that handles arbitration and mediation of labor disputes and contract negotiations.