By DAVID A. COOK
After months of negotiations, I am happy to announce that your UFCW bargaining committee has reached a tentative agreement on a recommended, new three-year contract proposal with our largest employer, Schnucks.
While the Schnucks and Dierbergs contracts mirror each other, we always complete Schnucks and ratify it, then complete bargaining with Dierbergs. We anticipate sitting back down with Dierbergs in the weeks to come.
NEGOTIATIONS NEVER EASY
Negotiations are never easy. There are easy days, but more often there are hard ones. I can confidently say that this committee fought for every single penny in this contract, and it’s a contract that we believe addresses more issues for our Schnucks partners than have been considered for decades.
But as proud as I am, I also freely admit it is not perfect. Any Union partner awaiting the perfect contract will be waiting their entire life.
The contract negotiation process can be frustrating from the outside. Partners often want information on a daily basis and constant updates. It can feel like a process that is inaccessible or confusing. As we have endeavored to open this Local up and make it more accessible to all, there are still some things, like negotiations, that require a degree of privacy to gain the best outcome. I understand the frustration that often accompanies major bargaining. But for good or bad, this negotiating process facilitates better bargaining and keeps our partners from a rollercoaster of emotions.
BARGAINING BASED ON BEST INTERESTS
The bargaining committee consists of Schnucks and Dierbergs rank-and-file partners. They represent a wide range of employees: part-time, full time, long-term, short-term, multiple departments, and former Shop ’n Save partners as well.
They help us shape our bargaining positions, they give honest and candid feedback, and they do it knowing that they become the face of a new contract. They know their coworkers will question them for updates. They know if a coworker sees something in the new contract they don’t like, they will be hearing about their displeasure at work. It is a difficult and thankless job, and we truly owe your bargaining committee a debt of gratitude for the hard work they have done making sure the partnership’s interest were heard.
This year, your bargaining committee had more ammunition than ever before to approach bargaining. Thanks to the incredible participation of partners like you, Local 655 had more leverage than ever before.
Thousands of you took our surveys and participated in our town hall meetings, which included responding to our live Q&A sessions. This participation gave us hard data unlike anything we had before during bargaining. This data allowed us to show the employers that we understood your priorities and were fighting for your interests. Your participation and involvement made that possible, and I can’t thank you enough for your passion and your care.
WAGES GOING UP
On top of the wage increases in this contract, we have to remember the wage increases that UFCW Local 655 got in another place: the political process. The minimum wage is rising every single year by $0.85 for the next four years. Local 655 played a critical role in that campaign, and I have repeatedly told our partners that I will get higher wages any way I can: in the contract or through the political process.
SECURING OUR PARTNERS’ FUTURE
While I will never tell you that a contract is perfect, I will always give you my honest assessment of the choice in front of you. This contract makes important steps, it secures the future of many of our hard-working partners, and it continues to fight for all of our partners to secure them the better life they’ve earned. I join your bargaining committee in wholeheartedly accepting this contract proposal.
We will meet soon to vote meeting on this contract. You will be notified of exact time and date. At this meeting, we will explain the full changes to this contract, take questions and ultimately vote to accept or reject.