Meeting the Challenge of Tough Negotiations

Since last summer, our Union, along with our allies in the UFCW Solidarity Alliance, has been negotiating with three of the largest supermarket chains in Northern and Central California.

Now that the companies have presented their proposals for the next contract, the scope of the companies’ cost-cutting ambitions has crystallized into sharp focus, and the picture is not pretty.

Each of the employers is proposing to sharply reduce the health care benefits of Union members. They want to eliminate health care for retirees altogether.

In addition, the companies are proposing rollbacks and takeaways in almost every other aspect of the contract, from wage premiums for Sundays and holidays to staffing guarantees to vacations.

We entered these talks with the expectation that these would be among the most challenging negotiations in decades.
We were fully aware that the employers would call attention to their loss of market share to low ball non-Union competitors like Walmart, WinCo and Fresh & Easy. We were also aware that the poor economy is forcing many shoppers to reduce their purchases of the higher-priced items that generate the most profits. And we were aware that health care costs keep rising and rising, adding to the pressure on Union employers to cut costs.

At the same time, the employers are aware that we are determined to protect and enhance our members’ living standards. We will resist every attempt to gut our hard-won benefits and workplace standards. 

Solidarity shows the way

As we push back against the excessive demands of management, your Union will require every ounce of solidarity that our members can muster.It’s fortunate that we have the recent example of our Southern California members to emulate. They succeeded in winning a fair con tract, but the effort took them to the very edge of a second full-scale labor dispute in eight years.
Jacques Loveall
Jacques Loveall
President, UFCW 8-Golden State
UFCW International Vice President
I’m not saying we will have a similar experience in Northern and Central California, but anything can happen. Solidarity is always the key to negotiating the best possible contract. As we often say, the best way to avoid a labor dispute is to be prepared for one.

Strategy for restoring
Union market share

To supplement our negotiating strategy, we are participating in a new and innovative program to fix the fundamental problem of declining standards in the grocery industry.

In the Winter 2012, Voice of Action you will read about Your Bread and Butter, a campaign that rallies grocery workers — both Union and non-Union — and the public at large to support good wages and benefits.

Visitors to the website are encouraged to share their opinions and hopes concerning standards at the stores where they work and shop. They are also in formed of progress in supermarket negotiations in California and across the country.

Through this program, we are raising awareness of supermarkets as the last bastion of middle class jobs in our communities. In turn, widespread awareness of the higher standards at our Union stores will, inevitably, encourage other retailers to raise their own standards.

Our goal is to halt the “race to the bottom” that is being led by non-Union companies and replace it with a “race to the top” that improves the quality of stores and raises the living standards of workers and their communities.

When we sit with the employers at the bargaining table, we aren’t just negotiating on behalf of our UFCW members. We are negotiating on behalf of better standards for the entire industry.

You can join the effort by visiting today. While you’re there, complete a questionnaire that applies to you. You’ll be entered automatically in a contest for $100 worth of groceries.

Thank you for standing strong with your Union. Together, we will prove once again that Solidarity Works!