Approval of the 16-month contract, which covers about 2,500 workers, concluded three months of negotiations between the union and ShopRite, the cooperative banner under Wakefern Food Corp., Keasbey, N.J. The agreement secures a wage increase, an increase in pension contributions by the employer and continuation of health benefits that do not require cost-sharing by the members.
"These were painstakingly difficult negotiations because of the uncertainties surrounding the Affordable Care Act," Brian String, UFCW Local 152 president, said in a statement. "Fortunately, both the union and the company were willing to roll up their sleeves and work on a solution."
Maintaining the workers' health benefits was the primary concern of the union's lead negotiating team and a 20-member negotiating committee of rank-and-file ShopRite members, String said.
ShopRite agreed to increase its health and welfare contributions by 19% over the course of the contract; and will increase its contributions to the workers' pension fund by 10% during the next 16 months in a continued effort to bring the fund back to "safe" status, the union said.
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