“Union Solidarity Victorious As Grocery Workers Union Reaches Tentative Agreement"
Union Singles Out Stop and Shop for “Vulture-Like” Tactics
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 and representatives for Pathmark, Stop and Shop and King Kullen Supermarkets reached a tentative agreement Monday evening in what a Union spokesperson termed a “victory for union solidarity.” The agreements mean that there will be no strike at any of the three area supermarkets.
“Negotiations are always difficult,” said Patrick Purcell, spokesperson for the Union. “In this case all three companies had three very different sets of economics. Pathmark and King Kullen had particular challenges and together we bargained hard and fair to resolve them. It was Stop and Shop that made these talks extremely difficult.”
The Union singled out Stop and Shop for their reprehensible bargaining tactics. “We all understood that Pathmark was dealing with some financial difficulty,” said Purcell. “Sadly, Stop and Shop swooped in like a vulture hoping to capitalize on Pathmark’s economics and brought us to the brink of a strike. Fortunately it back fired on them as their workers saw through their tasteless tactics and responded with an unprecedented level of solidarity,” Purcell continued. “The consequences of their actions will be felt for many years to come in the form of a more difficult labor-management relationship”
Purcell announced that one casualty is the end of a labor/management legislative committee. In recent years, the union and Stop and Shop had partnered on legislative issues such as fighting against the bottle bill, a tax on plastic bags, a tax on sugary beverages, high debit card fees and advocating for new supermarket funding via city programs and federal stimulus money. “The Union and their members lobbied to help Stop and Shop receive $16 million in Federal stimulus money and they said thank you by arguing over nickels. That is not a partnership.”
The Union was victorious in many areas of the contract. The workers will not have paycheck deductions to cover their healthcare cost. They will receive wage increases that will put top rated clerks at over $50,000 a year. The entire cost of the pension will be funded by the employers and have no employee contributions. Sunday premium pay will have a modest change with minimal impact on the employees. Lastly, the amount of guaranteed weekly hours for thousands of workers was increased.
“The members of Local 1500 stood up as one Union with one voice,” Purcell noted. “They also showed a great understanding of the effect a strike would have on their customers, many of which have become their friends over the years,” Purcell said.
All agreements are subject to ratification by the members of Pathmark, Stop and Shop and King Kullen. A vote to ratify will be held in approximately 10 days. Voting on the tentative agreement will be taking place on July 8, more details on locations will be available tomorrow.