UFCW, N.J. CHAINS HAMMERING OUT CONTRACTS

CLIFTON, N.J. -- Negotiators for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1262 here are recommending approval of new four-year contracts between the union and five New Jersey-based supermarket chains. ote only on the contracts covering their own companies. Tentative agreement on the new contracts was reached early last Tuesday morning between the union and representatives for Edwards Super Food

CLIFTON, N.J. -- Negotiators for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1262 here are recommending approval of new four-year contracts between the union and five New Jersey-based supermarket chains.

ote only on the contracts covering their own companies. Tentative agreement on the new contracts was reached early last Tuesday morning between the union and representatives for Edwards Super Food Stores (formerly Mayfair Super Markets) in Elizabeth; Foodtown, the retail arm of Twin County Grocers in Edison; Grand Union Co. in Wayne; Pathmark Stores in Woodbridge; and ShopRite, the retail arm of Wakefern in Elizabeth.

The new contract calls for full-time workers in the union to receive a wage increase of $65 a week over four years, regardless of base pay. Part-time employees would receive raises of 25 cents an hour every year for four years, the union said.

Local 1262 represents cashiers, stockers, produce workers, bookkeepers and bakery clerks at 286 stores in northern and central New Jersey and Orange and Rockland counties, N.Y., plus two stores in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The union's previous contracts expired at midnight April 12. Local 1262 and the five chains went through a 28-day strike-lockout in 1993 when the previous contracts expired.

Asked what impact the 1993 strike had on this year's negotiations, Frank Margiotta, public relations director for Local 1262, told SN, "It made us want to stick to true collective bargaining, trying to work out the problems that separate us rather than working around them."

Although Margiotta declined to discuss specific contract terms, he said in an interview with SN prior to the tentative contract agreement that the union's major issues were wages and pension-fund benefits. He said the union was seeking increases in wages averaging 3.5% to 4%, "which is the national average."

Regarding the pension fund, he said the union wanted to find ways to maintain its viability for the future "now that the stock market investments the fund has relied on may be declining in value." Scheduling flexibility was reportedly one of the key points on management's agenda. However, management representatives could not be reached for comment on that issue.