October 3, 2003
Spokesperson for The Greater St. Louis Food Employers Council
Local 655 leadership's reaction to advertised pay rates for temporary strike replacement workers is no surprise. The leadership of Dierbergs, Schnucks and Shop `n Save is confident they are within their rights.
Our goal in setting these rates was to hire enough workers to continue serving our customers in the unfortunate event of a strike, perhaps a lengthy strike. While the unemployment rate remains extremely high, displaced workers in our community currently looking for work must be adequately compensated in order to suspend permanent job searches and come work for us. However, we certainly respect our Associates and their rights. We hope that they will be in the stores after Tuesday's vote with a new Contract in hand.
We value our associates, and that is reflected in both the current and the proposed benefits packages. Union leaders acknowledged this when they recommended the tentative agreement.
Protest over the pay emphasizes the point the employers have been making all along. Employer-paid healthcare and pension (total of $4 per hour) must be recognized by the union and its membership as a major part of an individual's total compensation package. Labor costs (wages AND benefits) are the single largest expense to any grocer. It is impossible to ignore or discount the impact labor costs have on businesses.
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