The strength of our membership, and the powerful connection with communities across the region, came into sharp focus this April and early May. Grocery store workers (making up over 50% of the UFCW 21 membership) ratified a new contract prior to expiration for the first time in 15 years. The contracts cover 30,000 grocery store workers from three unions (UFCW 21, UFCW 367 and Teamsters 38), employed by both big national chains (Safeway/Albertsons, Fred Meyer and QFC) as well as smaller independent stores like Metropolitan Market.
"This contract is a big step forward toward a better life for thousands of workers in our region,” said Ariana Davis, a Safeway worker from Renton and Bargaining Team member, shown here at a vote meeting in Seattle going over the Tentative Agreement with a member. “We have been able to protect our health benefits, secure our retirement, and make many other improvements to pass our new contract before it expired. We hope this sets a new tone for negotiations in future years. As workers who have been taking action since the last negotiation in 2013, we will continue to take action together between now and our next bargain."
The new contract, passed by a strong majority, includes:
- Increased funding by employers to maintain workers’ high quality low cost health plan.
- The opportunity to earn higher wages through transfer and promotion rights and 3 years of wage increases for those at the top of the wage scales.
- Continue to guarantee raises above the current minimum wage on the wage scales to ensure raises for all grocery store workers.
- Substantially increased funding to continue to secure the pension plan for the future.
Another part of our 2016 plan to “Rise Together” is to pass I-1433, the higher statewide Minimum Wage and Paid Sick and Leave law. This initiative campaign will phase in a higher minimum wage to $13.50 over four years and provide up to 7 days of Paid Sick Leave. At vote meetings and in workplaces across the state, UFCW 21 members have been leading the way and signing the petition to qualify this initiative for the ballot in record numbers. Many members, like May Tam (shown on the cover) who started working at the Issaquah Safeway Deli late last year, registered to vote for the first time in her life just before signing the petition. Congrats to May and every member in the workplace taking action for change.