Friday, May 22, 2015

Fairway Market Workers Ratify New 3-Year Contract

On the day of the vote, the message and tone was clear, “No matter the position, no matter the language, your vote matters. We’re united,” said Iris Bien-Aime, who gathered and spoke to her coworkers about voting at Fairway in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Fairway Market is truly like no other market, the staff is like an extended family. At the vote in Red Hook, workers who were not on schedule to work came to vote with their children and family. The mood and feel at any Fairway screams solidarity. Which was crucial during the last four months, this was the first contract negotiation with new Fairway's new CEO that took office in September of 2014.

“Our team was dedicated from the start to not only protect our contract, but to set a tone for future negotiations,” said lead union negotiator Rob Newell, “Because of their solidarity and passion, many positive changes were made in the contract. It was a real honor and privilege to work alongside of the committee, their drive and emotion earned all Fairway workers an excellent contract.”

Throughout the four months of negotiations, Fairway members wore solidarity buttons while at work demanding the company negotiate the “Fair Way”. The buttons truly made an impact and helped show support to the negotiating committee.

The contract also includes a number of quality of life issues such as increasing the number of minimum workweek hours for everyone. All members, regardless of class or tenure, are guaranteed to be scheduled a minimum 21 hour workweek.

“The deal gives stability to our families. Especially the medical, pension and legal service benefits, which were all unchanged,” said John Graham, a union negotiating committee member who works at Paramus Fairway.

The term of the Agreement is March 30, 2015 through April 1, 2018. Fairway workers will receive six raises throughout the term, including a retroactive wage increase from March 30th 2015. A minor, but very popular change was switching when vacation time was paid. Vacations are now paid prior to taking vacation, as opposed to receiving the pay the week of vacation. The agreement also includes a successors clause and increases contributions to the Union scholarship fund. Additionally it protects all members of UFCW Local 1500 from any discrimination because of: race, color religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, genetic information or gender identity or expression.

As the vote was closing Jeannette Taylor, who has worked at Fairway for over eight years, walked up to the poll, placed her ballot in the box, and proudly bragged, “I’ve got my union button…I don’t leave home without it.”

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