Negotiations Updates - September 19, 2016
Food Pharmacist Negotiations: Since achieving a successful contract on behalf of our clerks and meat cutters who work at Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs, we have been struggling to try to get a fair deal for the pharmacists who work for these same employers. While these pharmacies do less business than a Rite Aid or CVS, these pharmacists often work 12-hour shifts without any staff assistance and must take all calls and all customers by themselves. Often, they cannot find the time to take an uninterrupted lunch or rest break. Despite this difficult work environment, these pharmacists earn far below the industry standard for pharmacists. Thus far, we have not been able to convince management to assure proper staffing and fair pay for these pharmacists and we will be taking our fight to the streets in the near future.
After more than a year of stalled negotiations and LabCorps' other union-busting tactics, the workers are fighting back. On Friday, UFCW 135, in conjunction with 770, 1428 and 1167 held a rally at LabCorps Southern California headquarters to tell management that we're fed up with their union-busting tactics. We were joined by a broad spectrum of labor and community allies who delivered a letter to LabCorps letting them know that the community would not continue to patronize their facilities unless the negotiated in good faith with the union.
Gelsons: Locals 770, 324, 135, 1442 and 1167 had a very positive first meeting with Gelsons last week regarding the expired contract. Based on the progress we made, we believe that we are close to reaching an acceptable agreement for our Gelsons members.
PHARMACISTS BARGAINING UPDATE - September 14, 2016
Yesterday your Union met with Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons once again in an attempt to get a fair contract for pharmacists. Unfortunately, we were unable to make any meaningful progress. We continue to be far apart on the issue of wages for both pharmacists and pharmacists-in-charge. In addition, the companies are unwilling to agree to any required level of ancillary staffing in your contract.
We have reviewed the questionnaires that you completed and we understand the very difficult working environment that you face in your pharmacies. We tried to get management to understand the difficulties you encounter, especially when you are alone in the pharmacy, and the dissatisfaction that you have heard from your patients and customers when you are unable to serve their needs as quickly as you would like to. Management's insensitivity to these issues is appalling.
We know that the only way to impress the seriousness of this situation on Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons is for us to talk directly to the public and we plan to do just that. We have agreed to meet with the companies one more time on September 19, 2016, before escalating our activities in front of the stores. If management does not adequately address our concerns at that meeting, we will resume hand billing in front of select stores.
Our activities will be designed to inform the public about the lack of adequate staffing in your pharmacies and management’s unfair treatment of its pharmacists. We will also ask the public to get their flu shots elsewhere until management comes to the table with a fair contract. We will also talk to legislators about public safety issues in the pharmacies and will work towards addressing these issues Statewide.
We encourage you to participate in these actions on your day off. A schedule of our actions will be on our website: ufcw770.org. Your Company's pharmacy business is profitable because of you and you deserve better. We will continue to work to assure that you receive respectable wages and working conditions.
Stater Bros. Contract RAtified - September 9, 2016
Congratulations! We are pleased to announce that UFCW members in Southern California have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with Stater Bros. The contract contains raises of nearly a dollar an hour over the three year span of the deal, automatic increases to compensate for new minimum wage laws, retirement security, and improved notice of scheduling.
PHARMACISTS BARGAINING UPDATE - August 24, 2016
Pharmacy bargaining resumed with your Companies on August 22. Throughout these negotiations your Union has maintained our goals of adequate staffing in the pharmacies, competitive wages for pharmacists and PICs and maintenance of medical and pension benefits.
Unfortunately, management does not share our concerns regarding adequate staffing and claim that the pharmacies are not that busy and therefore it is not necessary to have more techs or pharmacy clerks available to assist the pharmacists.
We also remain apart on a fair and equitable wage increase for pharmacists and pharmacists in charge. Once again management claims that Retail Food Store pharmacies cannot be compared to Drug Store pharmacies and therefore a lower wage is appropriate. Your Union does not agree and we are working diligently to close the gap. We understand that your medical and pension benefits are top notch but your level of responsibility, liability, knowledge and education must also be properly compensated.
We will meet again with your Companies on September 13. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to wear your stickers. If you need additional stickers, please contact your Representative. We are also surveying all pharmacists regarding the staffing issue. We need everyone’s participation and ask that you take a few minutes to discuss this issue when your Union Representative is in your store. Union Representatives will be bringing this survey to you within the next week or two.
Your Company’s pharmacy business is profitable because of you. You deserve fair wage increases and working conditions. We are at a critical point in negotiations. Your solidarity and commitment will make the difference.
August 5, 2016 - Pharmacy Contract Update
After more than five months of attempting to bargain a new contract for our members who work at Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs, we finally negotiated an acceptable contract settlement for the clerks, meat cutters and pharmacy techs. This agreement did not come easy. Our members participated in rallies, boycotts and other consumer action for several months. These actions forced the companies to come to the bargaining table and remain there for almost 96 hours of nonstop bargaining after which we finally reached a mutually acceptable contract.
During these 96 hours, we repeatedly asked the companies to negotiate our pharmacist contract. Finally, we received an insulting, inadequate offer of increases of only .50¢ per hour per year. Your Union knows this is far below industry standards and is not acceptable.
In order to devote adequate time to fully address all pharmacist issues, we decided that we should set a separate date for the purpose of solely focusing on bargaining on behalf of the Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs pharmacists. That date will be August 22, 2016. Between now and then, it is important that you remain united and show your willingness to fight for a fair contract.
We understand how hard you work and the increasing demands and workload in the Retail Pharmacies. Unfortunately, your companies have not demonstrated that they share this understanding. To achieve an acceptable offer, we must engage in actions that put additional pressure on the stores. We will contact you soon regarding what those actions will be and we urge all pharmacists to show the same solidarity and strength that your union brothers and sisters in the remainder of the store showed to achieve their contract.
If you have any questions, please contact your Union Representative.
Grocery Workers Approve New Contract
Wage Increases, Retirement Protections, Improved Scheduling
August 9, 2016 - Grocery workers across Central and Southern California approved a contract with the companies which own Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons Stores.
The contract contains raises of nearly a dollar an hour over the three year span of the deal, automatic increases to compensate for new minimum wage laws, retirement security, and improved notice of scheduling.
“This contract represents a significant victory for our members, and secures their wages, retirement security, and control over their schedules,” said Rick Icaza, President of Local 770, one the largest United Food & Commercial Workers local unions in the United States representing grocery workers. “It provides for nearly a dollar an hour in wage increases, and shows that our members’ solidarity and unity was successful in beating back draconian takeaways from the corporations which own these grocery stores.”
The contract, negotiated with Kroger Company and Cerberus Capital, the corporation and hedge fund owners of Ralphs and Vons/Albertsons, was overwhelmingly approved by grocery union members during two days of voting. The deal immediately goes into effect.
“Thanks to the support of our members, community allies and consumers, we were able to stand strong and deliver for our members,” said John Grant, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 770.
Join grocery workers, local leaders and the community as we rally in support of a fair contract at Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons.
Join us as we march and rally to get a fair contarct for grocery workers as they fight to #MakeEndsMeet
Meet at Lafayette Park on the corner of 6th St and S Benton Way in Los Angeles, CA at 11am.
Let's show these companies we are ready to fight!
Date: Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Location: Meet at Lafayette Park on the corner of 6th St. and S. Benton Way
Los Angeles, CA 90057
August, 1 2016
On the Verge of a Strike, Thousands of Grocery Workers and Supporters
March and Rally in Downtown Los Angeles.
Five Months Past the Expiration of Their Contract, Thousands of Grocery Workers and Community Leaders Demand Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons Reach an Agreement
Grocery workers and their allies in the community will gather in Los Angeles on Tuesday, August 2nd by the thousands to demand a conclusion to their long-running attempt to get a contract with Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons.
“Our contract expired nearly five months ago, and it is long past time for the corporations who own Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons to come to the table and reach a fair deal with grocery workers,” said Rick Icaza, president of the largest local union representing grocery workers, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770.
“Our members are fighting to make ends meet, yet these corporations made BILLIONS in profits last year. It is inexcusable the way they are nickel and diming their hard-working employees, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck.”
The contract covering roughly 50,000 grocery workers from central and southern California expired in March. Despite efforts by grocery worker leaders to reach a new deal, the owners of Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons have dragged their feet and offered punitive changes to the contract that would force more employees into poverty and short change retirees.
Grocery workers have given the corporations an August 8th deadline to reach a deal, or they will ask their members to vote up or down on the current offer. Grocery workers already authorized their negotiators to call a strike if negotiations break down.
Your Union attended bargaining sessions on July 20 and 21 fully prepared to bargain a mutually acceptable contract. Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs did not share this intention and their proposals continue to fail to recognize your hard work, the companies' profitability and the increasing cost of living in Southern California.
This is not acceptable. We are beginning boycott actions throughout Southern California on Monday, July 25th. These will continue through August 8th - our deadline for obtaining an acceptable offer or calling for a strike. Please check with your Union Representative or steward, or our web site at ufcw770.org/actions for dates and times of boycott actions. Your participation will make a difference since the customers know you and will honor your request.
Negotiations will resume on August 1, 2016. Meetings for all members have been scheduled for August 8th to vote to accept or reject management's offer. Watch your mail for a meeting notice with locations and times.
The next 2 weeks are critical and your support and solidarity make the difference. We don't want to strike but we will if we have to. You deserve better.
50,000 empleados de Ralphs, Vons y Albertsons en California llaman a boicot
Unos cincuenta mil trabajadores de los supermercados Ralphs, Vons y Albertsons en California hicieron hoy un llamado al boicot de estas cadenas de tiendas ante la imposibilidad de alcanzar un acuerdo entre los empleados y los ejecutivos corporativos que garantice condiciones laborales “justas”.
“El contrato de los trabajadores terminó hace más de cuatro meses y del contrato dependen no solo miles de empleados sino también sus familias, hijos y esposas”, aseguró en entrevista con Efe Rigoberto Valdez, vicepresidente del local 770 del Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de Alimentos y el Comercio (UFCW).
El sindicalista criticó que las empresas accedan a subir el sueldo mínimo a los trabajadores con menos experiencia, pero se nieguen a mejorar las condiciones salariales de aquellos que llevan años en la plantilla.
Valdez también indicó que, en este momento, las jornadas laborales de los empleados se limitan a 24 horas como media por semana, y exigió que el nuevo contrato garantice un mínimo de 32, aunque preferiblemente 40.
“Queremos que las horas suban a 32 para que (los trabajadores) puedan sobrevivir”, aseguró Valdez, que aclaró que al menos el 50 % de los empleados afectados son latinos.
El sindicalista insistió en la necesidad de “oponerse” a las condiciones impuestas por los ejecutivos corporativos en el nuevo contrato, ya que sumirán a los trabajadores “en la pobreza” y “retirarán las protecciones para los empleados que llevan veinte años”.
Valdez acusó también a las compañías de alargar el proceso de negociaciones y recalcó que, durante todas estas semanas, los trabajadores “sufren” porque “viven cheque a cheque”.
“Los dueños corporativos de Ralphs, Vons y Albertsons están atrasando innecesariamente el contrato. Ellos están poniendo en riesgo el sustento de los trabajadores y el bienestar de sus familias, todo por ganar unos cuantos centavos más para los inversionistas y los directivos”, aseveró John Grant, secretario tesorero del local 770 de UFCW.
Valdez detalló que, en los próximos días, los trabajadores de las quinientas tiendas situadas desde la localidad sureña de San Ysidro al centro de California, protagonizarán varias manifestaciones enfrente de los establecimientos.
Una de ellas recorrerá las calles de Los Ángeles el martes, 2 de agosto, dijo.
Las jornadas de protesta se prolongarán hasta el lunes, 8 de agosto, día para el que se ha convocado una huelga si las dos partes implicadas no han resuelto el conflicto.
Four and one-half months after contract expiration, we are disappointed to report that management from Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons has made little effort towards achieving a contract offer that provides living wages for all employees, affordable medical benefits, retirement security and fair scheduling.
Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons have been dragging out negotiations since March and it is clear that they prefer to delay a settlement to avoid paying you the increases you deserve. We met on July 13, 14 and 15 with very little movement by the companies on any of the most important economic issues. We have additional meetings scheduled for July 20, 21 and August 1 and 2.
We have told the companies that we have a deadline of August 8. We know from past negotiations that without a deadline, the companies will continue to delay. All local unions will schedule vote meetings on August 8 and 9 to present and vote the companies' final offer.
In the meantime we are doing everything possible to avoid a strike, including putting pressure on the companies through actions in front of their stores, community and labor delegations and intermittent boycotts. Ultimately, if the companies do not show a willingness to adequately address our issues, we will begin strike preparations including holding picket captain meetings, shoring up our food banks, seeking hardship contributions from unions throughout the country and notifying the public of the likelihood of a strike.
As always, our goal is to negotiate a contract without the need for economic action. Currently, however, we have not seen any indication from your employers that they intend to make a fair offer that allows their employees to make ends meet. (#makeendsmeet) We recognize that no one ever wants to go on strike, but the message we need management to hear is "We don't want to strike but we will if we have to.”
If you have any questions and to find out how you can help, please contact your Union Representative or Steward.
Click here to download this letter
There will be a bus leaving from the LA Office (630 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90005) at 8am. Seating is limited. Please RSVP to Rigo Valdez at (213) 201-7120 to reserve a seat on the bus.
Here’s what happens now that grocery workers voted to authorize a strike
With another potential grocery strike looming in Southern California, shoppers are likely wondering how things will play out.
When will the strike happen? What supermarkets will be affected? Will people have to cross angry picket lines to shop at their favorite stores?
Valid questions, to be sure. But the grocery chains and their employees hope to avoid a strike. And if it does come to that, it likely wouldn’t happen right away.
HERE’S WHERE THINGS STAND:
An estimated 50,000 United Food and Commercial Workers members voted Tuesday to authorize a strike against Ralphs and Albertsons, which also owns Vons, Pavilions and Safeway stores.
Their labor contract expired March 6 and the current offer proposed by Ralphs and Albertsons is inadequate, according to union officials. Information distributed to union members says the offer includes an “insulting wage proposal,” “devastating cuts” to their pension plan and a refusal to increase funding to the workers’ health plan.
Still, UFCW Local 770 President Rick Icaza said everyone involved hopes to avert a strike.
“We’re doing everything in our power to avoid it,” he said. “It’s a last resort.”
Ralphs has indicated it feels the same way.
“Ralphs is committed to reaching an agreement with union leadership at the one place an agreement can be reached, the bargaining table,” the company said in a statement. “A strike authorization vote is premature and only serves to cause concern for associates and customers.”
The company is encouraging union leadership to return to the table and work out an agreement that is “good for our associates and allows us to remain competitive in the market.”
Icaza said the union and the grocers have scheduled 10 meetings through the end of July, meetings that it is hoped will provide enough time to address concerns and ultimately hammer out a labor agreement both sides can live with.
“Our goal is avoid a strike,” he said. “We’re going to make every effort to come up with an agreement. But if the final agreement they offer is what we see now ... there will be a strike.”
The grocers’ current proposal would provide experienced clerks and meat cutters with one wage hike of 10 cents per hour in March 2017, but no pay increases in 2016 or 2018. They also would receive two bonuses of 10 cents and 15 cents an hour during that period.
The supermarket chains also plan to cut their age 60 early retirement benefit for workers by 40 percent, which would require employees to work until age 65 to get their full pension.
The agreement would additionally not boost funding to the employees’ health plan, a move the union says would force workers to contribute more to their coverage or do without it.
Grocery workers give leaders resounding strike authorization
Grocery workers across Southern California voted overwhelmingly to give their negotiators the power to call a strike if contract negotiations break down.
The contract covering nearly 50,000 grocery workers expired in March, and the union has been attempting to negotiate a new deal with the Kroger Corporation (owner of Ralphs) and Cerberus Capital (owner of Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons).
“We don’t want to strike, we understand the impact on consumers, our communities, and our members,” said Rick Icaza, president of the largest local union representing grocery workers, UFCW Local 770. “But the out-of-state corporations and hedge funds controlling the stores may leave us no choice. Despite profits of $4 billion dollars, they are still demanding our workers give up retirement and health care security and forgo raises for two years. That’s not fair, and it’s not right.”
“Grocery workers are the front line for working class families in Southern California,” said John Grant, Secretary Treasurer of Local 770. “These corporations know that if they can take away our hard fought and modest retirement and health care security in the bright light of day, they will have no trouble doing the same to every other working family in California. We have a responsibility not just to our members and other grocery workers, but to every family fighting to make ends meet.”
The contract covering nearly 50,000 grocery workers expired in March, and the union has been attempting to negotiate a new deal with the Kroger Corporation (owner of Ralphs) and Cerberus Capital (owner of Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons).
Despite combined profits of $4 billion dollars a year, the two corporate owners are demanding dramatic reductions that could result in the collapse of the retirement and health care plans for grocery workers, leaving many without their savings and pushed onto public assistance. The proposed 3 year contract contains only one raise, and two years of no raises. It would also extend to almost nine years the time it would take a grocery worker to gain promotions enough to make $750 a week.
Grocery workers approve a strike against supermarkets
Grocery workers across Southern California voted to authorize a strike against Ralphs and Albertsons, which includes Vons, Pavilions and Safeway stores, union officials reported.
The vote by 47,000 United Food and Commercial Workers members gives union officials the power to call for a strike if the supermarkets don’t back down on their demands. The grocery companies and union have 10 meetings scheduled through the end of July.
The supermarkets have offered one 10-cent per hour wage increase through 2018, as well as two bonuses of 10 cents an hour and 15 cents an hour during that time, according to Rick Icaza, the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770.
He said the stores also would not fund healthcare beyond current levels, forcing employees to contribute more or sacrifice coverage; reducing their future contributions to pensions; and forcing employees to retire at 65 rather than 60.
“People were so enthusiastic; they wanted to go on strike right away,” said Icaza.
Kendra Doyel, a spokeswoman for Ralphs, said the company is committed to hammering out an agreement over the course of the next month.
“We’re not surprised” at the strike authorization vote, she said. “It’s just part of the process.”
This is the fourth contract negotiation since 2004, the year the two sides finally settled a grinding, 141-day walkout, the longest major supermarket strike in national history.
Ralphs and Albertsons lost $1.5 billion in sales because of that strike. Another strike could be devastating, for both the stores and their workers.
“Both sides lost so much money and market share from the 2003-04 strike that neither side could financially afford to take a prolonged strike” in subsequent negotiations, said Burt Flickinger III, the managing director of the consulting firm Strategic Resource Group.
Veteran grocery workers absorbed a 35% cut to their pensions to make a deal in 2004, while new employees took an even sharper cut. Clerks, meat cutters and baggers have seen their pay decline since then, after adjusting for inflation.
The supermarkets, meanwhile, have lost their tight grip on the country’s largest grocery market. In 2004, Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons/Pavilions held almost 60% of the Southland’s grocery trade, according to the Strategic Resource Group. Now those stores control about 33%.
RETAIL FOOD STRIKE VOTE FOR VONS/RALPHS/ALBERTSONS
Based on the Companies’ negotiating positions, all SoCal UFCW Locals have scheduled urgent strike vote meetings to seek authorization for economic action, up to and including, a strike as follows:
Monday, June 20, 2016
All-Day Voting (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
Local 770 Los Angeles Office
630 Shatto Place, 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90005 (map)
Local 770 Harbor City Office
25949 Belle Port Avenue
Harbor City, CA 90710 (map)
Local 770 Camarillo Office
816 Camarillo Springs Road, Orchid Room
Camarillo, CA 93012 (map)
Local 770 Santa Barbara Office
4213 State Street, Suite 201
Santa Barbara, CA 93110 (map)
Best Western Plus Colony Inn
3600 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93422 (map)
2100 N. Broadway
Santa Maria, CA 93454 (map)
Residence Inn by Marriott
25320 The Old Road
Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381 (map)
Airtel Plaza Hotel
7277 Valjean Avenue
Hilton Garden Inn
199 N. 2nd Avenue
Monday, June 20, 2016
Voting (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
VONS #2272 Breakroom
123 Metropole Ave.
**PLEASE BRING THE ATTENDANCE CARD YOU RECEIVE IN THE MAIL TO VOTE.**
Update June 3
Three months after contract expiration, the company finally presented its economic package on June 2, rejecting all of the Union's proposals. This package disregards the needs of our members, ignores the growing cost of living in Southern California and fails to give employees any credit for the Companies' record profits.
The Companies' wage offer is insulting and their benefit proposal would drastically increase employee health care costs and decimate our pension plan.
As a result, all Southern California local unions are scheduling strike votes for June 20, 2016 and communication to customers in front of the stores will increase next week.
Please watch your mail for your strike vote notice and talk to your steward or Union Representative about how you can help spread the message to the customers and community.
It's time to STAY STRONG because like everyone else who works for a living, we should have jobs that MAKE ENDS MEET.
Update May 23
The UFCW Southern California locals met with Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs for two more dates on May 19 and 20 again with the assistance of the federal mediator. We again explained the importance of maintaining benefits and pension, fair scheduling and living wages that allow grocery workers to make ends meet. Despite being almost 3 months past contract expiration, the companies still have not responded to our most important proposals and have shown no interest in responding to the important needs of their workers. We know from experience that these companies care only about the bottom line and not about the needs of their employees. We must show that our unity can threaten that bottom line to get these companies to address our needs. Mobilization of members and the community will continue to grow until we achieve a fair contract.
Update May 11
The UFCW Southern California locals met with Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs on April 28 and 29 and May 9 and 10 with the assistance of the federal mediator. We have explained to the companies the importance of maintaining benefits, fair scheduling and living wages that allow grocery workers to make ends meet. So far, the companies have not been receptive.
Mobilization of members and community will continue to grow until we achieve a fair contract.
Update April 20
While negotiators were at the bargaining table, thousands of UFCW members pledged to "Stand Together" for fair wages, affordable healthcare, and fair scheduling practices! They showed their support for their bargaining objectives by signing petitions that were delivered to management.
Update April 19
The So Cal UFCW Locals met with Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs on April 18th and 19th. The parties discussed a number of proposals and our respective consultants were in attendance to help the parties determine the amounts needed to maintain the the Pension and Health plans. We have scheduled a number of additional dates in April and May. The parties have requested the assistance of the Federal Mediation Service and the same Federal Mediator that helped the parties resolve negotiations in 2007, 2011 and 2014 will be attending these future sessions.
We will continue to keep you updated as negotiations progress. Stay strong and united. We can only win fair wages, fair scheduling and maintain our benefits by "Standing Together."
Today and tomorrow while negotiators were at the bargaining table, thousands of UFCW members pledged to "Stand Together" for fair wages, affordable healthcare, and fair scheduling practices! They showed their support for their bargaining objectives by signing petitions that were delivered to management.
April 11, 2016 - An Important Message From President Rick Icaza
We have just concluded our initial negotiations session since resolving the IRS pension funding issues that were holding up negotiations. (Although the IRS issue is resolved, we must still get agreement from Albertsons/Vons and Ralphs to fully fund our pension and health plan.) We have some additional dates scheduled in the month of April, but we know from prior years that we need to more dates and whenever possible, full weeks in order to fully address our proposals for fair wage increases, better scheduling practices and maintaining medical and pension benefits. We have demanded more dates in May and June and are waiting for responses from the Company bargainers.
The need for unity and strength is more important now than ever. The companies’ initial opposition to fair wage increases and no reductions in medical and pension can only be countered at the bargaining table when they understand that their employees are one hundred percent (100%) behind these demands and will take action to support them.
When your Union Representative or Steward asks for your commitment, please respond with a definitive YES. If your manager or coworker asks if you stand with the Union, tell them ABSOLUTELY. Remember, the best way to avoid a dispute is to be prepared and united. Our success at the bargaining table is determined by your strength in the stores.
We will continue to update this site regularly. Please provide your steward with your updated cell phone number for text alerts.
Update March 30
The Unions and Employers were able to work out a solution to IRS Code section 412(e) funding issues that have been holding up negotiations. This is an extremely important development that will allow our pension plan to emerge from critical status by increasing the Employer contribution rate by reasonable amounts over the next several years. This does not, however, resolve the pension issues entirely. We still have to make sure that the Employers agree to pay those reasonable amounts as part of our overall settlement.
Now that we have resolved this important funding issue, we are scheduling multiple negotiation sessions so that we can move forward to address all of the important issues affecting our members, including maintaining our pension and health care plans, hours of work, scheduling, job security and securing wage increases for all grocery employees. This certainly will be an uphill battle so it is important to stay strong and united.
Please make sure the Union has your current e-mail address and cell phone number so we can update you with the newest developments. If you have questions or hear rumors, please contact your Union Representative.
Update March 28
Although our contracts with Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, Stater Bros and Gelson's expired on March 6, 2016, all wages, benefits and working conditions of the current contract remain in effect during the bargaining process. Bargaining has gotten off to a slow start due to the application of outdated IRS rules and regulations regarding the funding standard that applies to our pension.
We have been working diligently with our Trust Fund attorneys and consultants to work through these issues and we believe that we have found a solution. We are meeting with the Employers tomorrow to explore a possible resolution to this funding standard issue and we will let you know as soon as possible if we have found a solution that allows us to move forward.
Once we determine the correct funding standard to apply to our pension, we still have an uphill battle to address all of the important issues affecting our members, including maintaining our pension and health care plans, hours of work, scheduling, job security and securing wage increases for all grocery employees.
It is important to stay strong and united. Please make sure the Union has your current e-mail address and cell phone number so we can update you with the newest developments. If you have questions or hear rumors, please contact your Union Representative.
Your current collective bargaining agreement with your employer expired on March 6, 2016. Bargaining over the Master Food Agreement has gotten off to a slow start due to pension funding issues which require IRS approval. The Trust Fund attorneys and consultants representing both the Unions and the Companies are working diligently to obtain answers from the IRS and we hope to have guidance in the near future.
Several laws dictate funding status requirements for pension plans and in the case of the UFCW So Cal Food Fund, some of these requirements are old and outdated. But we must have IRS approval to bypass the outdated requirements and apply only the most current standards.
With the recent decline in the investment arena, assuring that our pension plan is adequately funded is your union’s top priority. We are doing everything possible to convince the IRS of this so that we can move forward with the bargaining and address all the important outstanding issues.
- Your wages, benefits, and pension remain intact and will continue uninterrupted while we continue negotiations.
- We are early in the bargaining stages and we will keep you informed of bargaining status as quickly as possible.
- Your union continues to represent and defend you in the workplace. If you have grievances or problems, please contact your union representative and talk to your shop steward.
It is important to stay strong and united. If you have questions or hear rumors, please contact your Union Representative.