UFCW 8 President Jacques Loveall Answers Questions from Rita Stevens, KNCO Grass Valley
Q: How many employees are represented by UFCW in the Grass Valley area and at what stores do they work?
A. UFCW 8 has 400 members who live or work in Grass Valley. Most of them work for Raley’s, Safeway and Save Mart, which are engaged in contract negotiations with our Union. Another 111 Union members work at SPD, whose current contract does not expire until next December. Grocery Outlet is not a Union store.
Q: Has the current contract(s) been extended, if so for how long?
A: The original contract expired on Oct. 8, but its terms have been extended several times since negotiations began last summer.
Our members at Safeway and Save Mart are currently covered by an extension at least until Feb. 25, 2012. After that date, the extension will continue on a day-to-day basis, subject to seven days’ notice by any party of its intention to cancel its participation in the extension agreement.
The current extension for our members at Raley’s is set to expire on Jan. 24.
Q: What are the major issues in the negotiations?
A: The employers are proposing severe takeaways and rollbacks for our members, especially in the areas of health care and workplace rules. They want to end health care for retirees altogether. We are vigorously pushing back against these proposals at the bargaining table.
One of the major issues that underlie these negotiations is the growth of non-Union retailers like Walmart, WinCo and Fresh & Easy in our areas. These companies tend to provide lower wages and benefits than Union employers, who are feeling competitive pressure to lower their standards as well.
To meet this challenge, our Union has launched a campaign called Your Bread and Butter to raise standards for everyone in the supermarket industry. We are reaching out to workers at non-Union stores and the shopping public and sharing with them the importance of raising the bar for wages and benefits. Our success will improve the living standards of supermarket workers and the communities in which they live.
Q: When was the last strike by UFCW members?
A: The last supermarket strike in the United States happened in Southern California in 2003-04. Almost 60,000 UFCW members in that part of the state either went on strike and were locked out over a 20-week period, from Oct. 11, 2003, until Feb. 29, 2004.