Contract mirrors one Schnucks members approved last month with new job-creating, job-protecting benefits and a $1 hourly wage boost
By ED FINKELSTEIN
Dierbergs Markets members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract last week that mirrors the historic agreement the union negotiated and members approved May 18 with Schnucks, Local 655 President David Cook announced after the meeting June 9 at the Machinists District 9 hall.
The current contract covering some 1,800 members working at Dierbergs Markets expired May 8. The new agreement was ratified with 64 percent approving and is effective immediately. Dierbergs participated in the Schnucks negotiating meetings.
BEST IN THE NATION
“Our members realized this was a historic contract, one that has yet to be replicated anywhere in the U.S. by our sister locals,” Cook said. “This agreement provides a $1-an-hour wage hike, protects jobs while providing more full-time jobs, provides members with more opportunities to earn extra pay, expands our health and welfare program at no extra cost to workers and maintains the union’s strong pension plan.
“This is arguably the best contract in our history, the best one I’ve ever negotiated in my career,” Cook said. “Many of these men and women worked through a pandemic, and not only are they receiving substantial pay increases, but we’ve also been able to improve their healthcare benefits without raising costs to workers by a single penny.”
COMPLIMENTS TO DIERBERGS, FMCS
Cook complimented Dierbergs management for their willingness to respect the needs of his members, who have gone above and beyond in the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also thanked the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) for their invaluable help in the talks. “FMCS plays a really important role, and they were critical in this process,” he said.
Greg Dierberg, CEO of Dierbergs Markets, also spoke after the vote. “We are pleased we could work together to finalize an agreement that demonstrates our investment in the long-term careers of our associates.”
Participating in the talks were representatives of Meat, Deli & Seafood Local 88 and UFCW Local 881, which represents Dierbergs and Schnucks throughout southern Illinois.
Local 655 is the largest private-sector union local in Missouri, representing more than 8,500 members in the central and eastern portions of the state, primarily in the grocery industry, as well as in food processing, food service, and manufacturing.
UFCW 655 contract highlights
The new UFCW Local 655 contract with Dierbergs Markets has been characterized as the best food contract yet to be negotiated anywhere in the nation, mirroring the recent agreement ratified with Schnucks.
It includes a number of groundbreaking benefits:
• Unprecedented new contract language, the first of its kind in the nation, allowing workers to write their own schedules and work at the stores of their choice. It’s designed to provide new job opportunities for all members. Dierbergs is developing a new on-line portal to manage this innovative effort.
• Creation of a new worker category – the Part-Time Flex workforce – to help members gain extra hours as well as bring in new part-time workers.
• The largest wage increases in Local 655 history – $1 an hour each of three years – in addition to guaranteed hours-based raises.
• New premium pay for overnight workers and those serving in leadership roles in their store.
• Expansions of health and welfare benefits at no additional cost to the employees.
• Preservation of pension benefits at no additional cost to Dierbergs
• Up to two weeks of vacation payout at the end of the calendar year.
• A dual increase in the guarantee of full-time jobs, from 45 percent of all hours to be full-time to 50 percent, with the addition of 30 new guaranteed full-time jobs a year, over and above the new hours ratio for full-time jobs.