Grocery Chain Workers Approve Contract
Employees of supermarket chain Stater Bros. on Wednesday approved a new three-year contract that will increase company contributions to health benefits and eliminate the two-tier wage system, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Davies, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/19). The approximate 13,000 employees were represented by six union locals of United Food and Commercial Workers (Hirsch, Los Angeles Times, 1/19).
The current contract between Stater and UFCW expires in March (Galvin, Orange County Register, 1/18).
UFCW plans to use the contract as a model for upcoming negotiations with three grocery store chains -- Safeway-owned Vons and Pavilions, Kroger-owned Ralphs and Albertsons stores -- involved in a 4.5 month strike and lockout that ended in February 2004.
The new contract's single-tier wage scale for clerks has 20 steps, with hourly wages increasing an average of $1.25 over three years.
Stater CEO Jack Brown said the grocer also agreed to increase contributions toward health and pension benefits (Los Angeles Times, 1/19).
Under the agreement, Stater Bros. over three years will increase its contribution to health care benefits from $2.75 per hour worked per employee to $5.75, according to UFCW Local 324 Spokesperson Todd Conger (Orange County Register, 1/18).
However, Brown said those contributions could be reduced to match contributions agreed upon by the union and the three other chains (Los Angeles Times, 1/19).
UFCW on Tuesday began contract negotiations with Albertsons and plans to meet with Vons and Ralphs in the next few weeks (Shikes, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/18).