SEATTLE — Union members here voted by margins exceeding 90% to accept new three-year agreements with three employers that boost wages, preserve health benefits and secure pension contributions, the unions said Thursday.
The new contracts cover United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 here and UFCW Local 367 and Teamsters Local 38 in the Tacoma area. The agreements — covering approximately 20,000 workers at 225 Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger-owned Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers — are scheduled to expire in May, August and October 2016, respectively.
Allied Employers, the organization that represents management in labor negotiations, did not comment on the substance of the contract terms but said the chains "are pleased to continue to provide good wages, secure pensions and access to quality, affordable health care for our employees."
According to the union, the new contracts call for senior journeyman clerks and journeyman clerks to receive hourly raises of 50 cents in two increments over the course of the agreement — with wages for senior journeyman at the end of the contract rising to $19.95 an hour, compared with $19.45 under the previous agreement, and journeyman rates rising to $19.70 from $19.20.
The union said all covered employees will also receive a bonus payment within 30 days, retroactive to October 2012, equivalent to 25 cents per hour for time worked during the one-year period.
Read more: Washington Unions Give Strike Notice
In terms of health care, the union said employers agreed to continue to fund health care without cutting benefits or increasing premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses — raising their contribution in increments to $4.86 per hour per employee at the end of three years, compared with $4.38 per hour under the previous contract.
The union said the employers also agreed to boost pension payments incrementally to 98 cents per hour, compared with 70 cents under the previous agreement.
"One of the key things we were not able to achieve was to expand paid sick days to workers outside Seattle," the union said in a statement. "However, just as we were not able to win paid sick days in the 2010 contract negotiations and then took our fight to Seattle City Hall [where paid sick days were approved], we will be looking to continue to push for that policy in cities across the state."
Negotiations began last March but dragged on through late September and early October, at which point the unions authorized a strike. The unions gave employers a 72-hour strike notice on Oct. 18, and a tentative agreement was reached on Oct. 21, 110 minutes before the strike deadline.
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