Safeway and Albertsons workers this week approved a contract that includes slight increases in wages and benefits.
The agreement also ends an advertising and yard sign campaign that compared the two chains and Fred Meyer unfavorably with Rosauers, which signed a contract with United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1439 in November, said President Larry Hall.
Ironically, the delay in reaching an agreement with Safeway and Albertsons may cost Rosauers workers because under a longstanding agreement that also includes Fred Meyer, each chain is entitled to adopt the terms of the most favorable contract negotiated with the union.
“The economy kind of jumped up and bit us,” Hall said.
He said the five-year Rosauers contract provided for hourly wage increases of 40 cents the first year, 35 cents the next three, and 40 cents the fifth year. The four-year Safeway/Albertsons agreement contains a 40-cent bonus for the first year, with 40-cent hourly increases the next three years, he said.
Bonuses do not get built into base pay.
Hall said he hopes adjustments in the contract with Rosauers can be made without immediate pay cuts, but added that the chain cannot allow itself to become uncompetitive.
He said the new contracts will also raise employer and employee contributions to the common health and welfare fund. Dental care eligibility kicks in after two years instead of four, he said, and children will qualify when their parents do.
“We thought it was very important children get coverage,” he said.
Another sticking point, employee termination after one mistake, was resolved verbally, said Hall, noting that Fred Meyer has taken the hardest line on that issue.
Talks with Fred Meyer continue, he said.
Hall said most provisions of the contract, which covers 620 Safeway and 370 Albertsons workers, have already been implemented.
Local 1439 represents 1,800 workers in the Spokane area.
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