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By The Skanner News
Published: 12 October 2019

Grocery store workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are celebrating their new three-year labor contract, which was officially ratified Friday, October 11, with a sizeable majority.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 555, has agreed a three-year contract for stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Dan Clay, Local 555 President said:

“In standing together and demonstrating our solidarity and determination, we won this historic contract by being Union Strong. And we couldn’t have done it without our communities coming together to stand with us: from shoppers to elected officials to workers’ rights activists who demonstrated their support.

"Local 555 members: we are all the union, and we together make the difference.” 

The agreement comes after 16 months of negotiations and includes:

  • A 20-hour weekly guarantee, ensuring more consistent scheduling for financial stability as well as consistent benefit eligibility.
  • Wage increases for all workers).
  • An agreement to apply contract provisions (specifically wages) retroactive to expiration dates for those contracts which have expired).
  • Changes to the “non-foods” contract rate, causing a one-time bump in pay of between 10 cents and $1 depending on location.
  • No reduction of health and welfare benefits or increase in member premiums.
  • Health and welfare additions, such as pediatric sedation for dental procedures, improved vision benefits, and hearing aid benefits.  
  • Stability in pension benefits across the board.
  • Improved vacation request provision and protections regarding new technology,
  • A more compassionate bereavement-leave policy, and a process to allow nutrition center employees to transition into higher-paying positions. 

In a press release the union said the contract: "makes significant progress in achieving gender equity through higher wages for workers in the female-dominated, lower-paying departments, as well as a formalized path for opportunities to enter into higher-paying departments.

"This language will allow long-term members an equal opportunity to advance from Schedule B positions to the higher-paid Schedule A positions based on skills and qualifications, rather than on arbitrary management decisions.

Ann Poff, a deli worker at Safeway for 22 years said:

“Finally having a fair process to change departments not only gives me financial freedom [due to resulting wage increases], but emotional freedom because I feel more respected at work”. 

Over the term of the contract workers will see wage increases that keep pace with the minimum wage. Apprentices will see their wages increase by $2/hr over the course of the contract.

Find out more about UFCW Local 555

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