New Hires to Co-Pay at Giant, Safeway

New Safeway and Giant-Landover employees in the Baltimore-Washington region who are members of United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 400 and 27 will pay at least $5 per week for individual health coverage, according to new contracts approved by the workers. Current employees those hired prior to last week will continue to have their health insurance fully paid by the chains. Local

LANDOVER, Md. — New Safeway and Giant-Landover employees in the Baltimore-Washington region who are members of United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 400 and 27 will pay at least $5 per week for individual health coverage, according to new contracts approved by the workers.

Current employees — those hired prior to last week — will continue to have their health insurance fully paid by the chains. Local 400, based here, said the union defeated a company proposal to have all workers pay 10% of their health and welfare costs.

According to a schedule provided by the union, the chains' monthly payment for health and welfare benefits for each full-time worker will range from $351 to $2,301, depending on the benefit plan of the worker. By 2011, that monthly payment will increase to a range of $467 to $3,063.

The new plans also increase the deductible employees must pay from $200 to $300 per year for the two top-tier plans.

The union and the chains also agreed to reduce the costs of retirement benefits by 11.5%. The two sides are scheduled to negotiate a “modified retiree benefit program” during the next 60 days.

The contracts also call for wage increases and a higher starting wage for new hires.

Giant said the new, four-year contracts, which passed by a near-unanimous vote, “provide significantly improved wages and benefits to our store associates.”

A Safeway spokesman declined to comment on the terms of the contracts.

The agreements cover about 23,000 workers at Safeway and Giant. A separate contract will be negotiated for the A&P-owned Super Fresh stores in the region, although Jim Lowthers, president of UFCW Local 400, told SN that the Super Fresh contract usually mirrors the Safeway-Giant agreements.