Unions, Save Mart Reach Tentative Agreement

SAN FRANCISCO — Three locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union here have reached a tentative contract agreement with Save Mart [5], the union said Wednesday.

The proposed settlement would run only through Oct. 12, 2013 — approximately two years after the previous contract expired last Oct. 29.  At that point the UFCW would seek to negotiate a new agreement after seeing how the chain performs with the reduced labor costs built into the short-term agreement, Mike Henneberry, a spokesman for UFCW Local 5, told SN.

The settlement caps 10 months of complex negotiations and covers union workers at 173 Save Mart and Lucky stores in Northern and Central California, as well as retirees. The agreement includes what labor leaders called a “stabilization agreement” providing temporary labor cost reductions “to assist Save Mart in its current economic challenges.”

"Thanks to the unity of our members, we were able to reach an agreement that protects their security and dignity while addressing the competitive challenges of the employer," the presidents of UFCW Locals 8, 5 and 648 said in a joint statement.

Related story: Save Mart, UFCW to Meet With Mediator [6]

The presidents noted the unions succeeded in meeting their primary objectives, including maintaining affordable health care for members and retirees as well as securing more hours and full-time positions for members.

"This tentative agreement with Save Mart addresses the employer's legitimate needs for temporary financial relief while preserving the core achievements of decades of union solidarity," they said. "This agreement maintains the highest wages, the finest benefits and the most generous pension plans in the grocery industry."

Both sides have agreed not to release the details of the tentative agreement until union members have had the opportunity to review and ratify it. Members will receive mail ballots and materials explaining the details of the tentative agreement in the next few weeks.

Negotiations are continuing between the unions and representatives from Safeway. Raley's contract is also unresolved.