Media Contact: Lori Willis
Director of Communications
Sept. 6, 2007
Schnucks, Shop `n Save and Dierbergs Clerks Ratify Labor Agreement
Vote passed with an 82 percent majority
The Labor Day celebration continues for the more than 9,500 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 655 who voted yesterday to ratify a new, three year labor agreement. Voting by secret ballot, the vote was 2,289 "yes" to 511 "no", earning an 82 percent majority.
Fully endorsed by negotiators on both sides of the table, the agreement covers 98 stores operated by the region's three largest union grocery companies, Schnucks, Shop `n Save and Dierbergs, bargaining jointly as the Greater St. Louis Food Employers' Council (GSLFEC).
Schnucks Chairman and CEO Scott Schnuck said, "We thank our associates for this vote and for demonstrating their understanding of the challenges we are facing as we work to deliver quality, service and value to our customers. The entire negotiating team is to be commended for their diligence in getting all the issues out on the table and for delivering a contract both sides could endorse as a fair and decent agreement."
The new contract calls for wage increases of $.45, $.35 and $.40 for a majority of associates over the next three years and 100% employer-paid health and welfare contributions until Jan. 1, 2009. After that time, associates will pay $4 per week for individual coverage, $8 per week for individual plus a spouse or children and $12 per week for family coverage. This is the first cost-sharing agreement for the grocery workers.
Upon approval by the Health and Welfare Funds' Board of Trustees two separate plans will be implemented. Plan A will continue to provide 90 percent coverage to associates who were eligible for benefits prior to Sept. 5, 2007. A minimal co-pay of $15 will be required for in-network doctor visits. After Jan. 1, 2008, insured individuals will pay a $250 deductible and those with family coverage will pay $750. Maximum out-of-pocket is $1,000 per person and $3,000 per family effective for the remainder of the year and will increase to $1,500 and $3,750 respectively.
Plan B provides for 80 percent coverage for newly eligible associates and those hired on or after Sept. 5, 2007. A $15 co-pay will be required for in-network doctor visits. Under this plan, there are slightly higher annual deductibles of $300 per person and $900 per family and maximum out-of-pocket costs at the agreed upon 2008 level of $1,500 per person and $3,750 per family.
Schnuck said, "Compromises on healthcare made the wage increases possible in these negotiations. This contract represents teamwork, and it is evidence of how far we have come over the past four years. We (grocers) believe it will give us a fighting chance against non-traditional competition which is strong and getting stronger in our region."
"In the end, it really all comes down to our customers; only our customers can guarantee our continued success," said Schnuck. "This contract will go a long way toward preserving our ability to serve our customers the way they deserve to be served, now and in the future."
This was the first year the union and grocers had utilized the Interest Based Bargaining method at the table. Schnuck was very complimentary of the efforts of federal mediators Barbara Rumpf and Roger Hendrix for their support throughout the process.
The Greater St. Louis Food Employers Council includes the areas three largest union grocery companies. Collectively, Schnucks, Shop `n Save and Dierbergs have nearly 250 years of experience in serving customers in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The Council was formed in 2003 for the purpose of bargaining as a unit and more effectively serving the needs of their customers and associates. The new contract covers 53 stores and 5,000 associates at Schnucks, 21 stores and 2,500 associates at Dierbergs and 24 stores and 2,000 associates at Shop `n Save.
# # #