“It’s Fair To Share”
We have entered the 2014 contract negotiations with Kroger and Albertson’s and both of these Multi Billion Dollar Corporations are performing very well. Kroger has achieved positive identical supermarket sales, excluding fuel, for forty-two (42) straight quarters, they more than doubled their stock price over the last two years, and they are on the way to beating their 1.5 Billion dollars in profits for year 2013 to name just a few. In addition, Kroger easily acquired 227 upscale stores from Harris Teeter in the eastern part of the country.
Albertson’s Cereberus LLC is a privately held company, so financial information on them is not released for public view. However, AB Acquisition who owns Albertson’s LLC, announced in March of 2014 that they are investing 9 Billion dollars to acquire Safeway. The merger will be complete once the Federal Trade Commission gives its final approval and will create a combined total of 2,400 stores, 27 distribution facilities and 20 manufacturing plants with over 250,000 employees for Albertson’s.
Both of these employers have shown that they have the ability to fairly share with the workers who help make their success possible, now the real question is, will they? That answer is still yet to be seen, but New Mexico UFCW members will play a role in accepting or rejecting their offerings.
We are facing a number of issues that need addressing. The New Mexico Health Fund needs money to absorb rising health costs and ACA mandated obligations. Albertson’s recent proposal to fund up to 8% over the next four years will leave the health fund in poor shape and lead to future benefit reductions. It is expected Smith’s will offer in the same neighborhood. Smith’s has mentioned the possibility of dropping spousal coverage, removing part-time dependents, and merging this fund with another fund. Employees need raises to offset the rising cost of living. The pay scale needs to be revised due to the State mandated minimum wage rate increases. Employees hired after June 1, 2005 who work for Smith’s and those hired after June 4, 2006 who work for Albertson’s need to be compensated for holidays and much more.
In geographical areas where Albertson’s, Smith’s (Kroger) and Safeway are joined together during bargaining with the Union, these employers have sought cuts and reductions in wage premiums, health care benefits, health care eligibility and contract language. After six months of bargaining, members up in the Seattle area finally reached an agreement after voting to strike and ultimately giving a 72 hour notice to the employers that they were striking. It took all of this for the employer’s to take them serious and before these same employers decided to put forth an acceptable settlement offer. We must prepare to do the same.
When Union members stick together we are strong and inseparable. Our Union’s primary strength is you, the members. The best outcome in negotiations will be from members working together in their stores to tell management we are united and sticking together. WEAR YOUR BUTTONS, “IT’S FAIR TO SHARE”.
Stand Strong, Stay Strong, Stand United!