“Contract Negotiations 2014”
This next year involves both an opportunity and a challenge with the Smith’s, Albertson’s and Safeway contracts up for negotiations. Collective Bargaining is a privilege that only union members enjoy. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions. Union’s are made up of individuals joined together to protect their interests. Your interests will no doubt be challenged next year. Smith’s and Albertson’s contracts expire on June 7, 2014, and Safeway expires on November 1, 2014. Your Union has been preparing for contract negotiations with Albertson’s, Smith’s and Safeway for close to four years now. The process starts immediately after reaching the last agreement. As your Union staff has been talking and visiting with members, we have found that you are excited about the upcoming opportunities, and so are we. A lot has changed during the past four years especially with regard to health care. The ACA (Affordable Care Act continues to roll out and the consequences will affect everybody.
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 expect to see similar proposals and behavior here next year and are preparing for such. While we hope that these employers will appreciate the hard work and success you have provided your Company, the best way to avoid trouble is to prepare for trouble. We have begun the process of recruiting members, such as you to volunteer your time and effort in the process of educating customers and the public. Southern California’s contract with seven different local unions with Albertson’s, Kroger / Ralph’s, and Safeway / Von’s) expires on March 2, 2014. I have and will continue to be in close contact with these local unions during their negotiations. The UFCW supports Unity bargaining and the benefits this can bring.
We will continue to monitor the ACA for recent mandates and changes which are updated often. In the last few months the Government has extended the penalty on the Employers who do not provide coverage for employees working more than 30 hours per week from January 2014 to a January 2015 start date. Hopefully we will see some deferral or removal of costly fees that must be paid for each person enrolled in our health fund.
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 come from the members working together in their stores to tell management that you are united. and sticking together. I am proud to have members as strong and courageous as each of you.