Union members working in Southern California grocery stores approved a new employment contract with Ralphs, Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons.
According to a Thursday news release from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union 770, the contract terms include: wage increases of $1.55 and $1.65 per hour, depending on job classification, over the three-year contract; retroactive pay to March 2019; closing wage gaps between job classifications; more guaranteed work hours for veteran workers; health care improvements and coverage for spouses and families; and full funding of pensions.
The contract also creates a joint “future of work” committee to “ensure worker voices are part of the evolution of grocery jobs and industry,” read the union news release.
“This agreement is a first step towards securing good, career jobs in the changing grocery industry,” said Kathy Finn, union secretary-treasurer.
“As important as the hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements to members is the way we got to this contract: by standing together store by store and with our communities to demand recognition of the value we earn these corporations every day.”
News of the deal broke on Sunday and union members voted on the contract from Monday through Wednesday.
Union officials say the agreement is the most significant increase in wages and benefits in more than 30 years. They described the vote only as an “overwhelming” approval. The union has just under 30,000 members according to unionfacts.com.
In June, the union rejected a contract offer from the grocery executives.
The agreement is the result of more than 40 bargaining sessions and thousands of customers who supported store workers through online petitions, read the news release.
Ralphs officials released a statement that confirmed the contract would apply to the company’s 18,000 associates who work in 190 stores in Southern California.
The parties were assisted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.
In the weeks leading up to the deal, the union threatened to strike if Sunday’s contract offer was not acceptable.