Grocery workers approve new contract, union reports

Grocery workers at Albertsons and Ralphs approved a new contract with the companies in voting that took place on Monday and Tuesday.

The agreement was reached after five months of talks between the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, representing the employees, and the two companies. The contract provides for modest pay increases over the next three years.

“This contract represents a significant victory for our members, and secures their wages, retirement security, and control over their schedules,” said Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770, in an emailed statement.

The contract gives the most senior clerks, cashiers and meat cutters raises of 30 cents this year, another 30 cents in 2017 and 25 cents in 2018. All other workers will have a shot at a 10-cent raise every four to five months. Entry-level employees will now start at 40 cents above the minimum wage, up from 20 cents over that rate.

In cities like Los Angeles, where the minimum is higher than the state’s current rate of $10, workers will earn 40 cents above that elevated wage floor.

The companies agreed to keep pension and health benefits intact and to up their own contributions to those packages through 2018. Workers will also now have their schedules posted on Monday, instead of the Friday before the following week.

Roughly 47,000 workers were offered the chance to approve the contract and did so “overwhelmingly,” according to an emailed statement from the UFCW Local 770.

This is the fourth contract negotiation between workers and the companies since 2004, when union members ended a 141-day strike that roiled the industry and transformed shopping patterns in the region.

“The contract is a winner for both shoppers and workers,” said Burt Flickinger III, the managing director of the Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm, in an email.

Flickinger said the contract included “extremely favorable benefits and pension plan programs, particularly compared to the more penurious total compensation at discount stores,” referring to Wal-Mart and Target. 

Natalie.Kitroeff@latimes.com

Follow me @NatalieKitro on Twitter

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
68°