Members of United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 555 have ratified a new three-year contract for grocery store workers in Oregon and SW Washington. The Local says, “The agreement comes after 16 months of often tense employer negotiations, tempered by enormous community support on behalf of union members.”
Among other things, the contract guarantees a 20 hour work week, raises wages, improves language around vacation requests, grants additional Health & Welfare benefits, and stabilizes pension benefits. Additionally, it stipulates that the terms of any contracts that expired before the agreement was struck be applied retroactively from the date of expiry.
Journeyman wages have increased 2 to 3 times that of the previous contract, and apprentice wages are guaranteed to maintain relative scale with minimum wage as it increases. Likewise, advancement to higher paying positions will be less susceptible to managerial whim, with more basis in the employee’s own ability.
Those terms go a long way in addressing complaints of gender inequity, as lower paying departments are primarily female-staffed. Longtime Safeway deli worker Ann Poff told KTVZ, “Finally having a fair process to change departments not only gives me financial freedom, but emotional freedom because I feel more respected at work.”
UFCW Local 555 President Dan Clay had this to say: “In standing together and demonstrating our solidarity and determination, we won this historic contract by being Union Strong. And we couldn’t have done it without our communities coming together to stand with us: from shoppers to elected officials to workers’ rights activists who demonstrated their support. Local 555 members: we are all the union, and we together make the difference.”
By Brandon Urey