After weeks of negotiations, UFCW Local 400 members who work at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores in Maryland and Virginia unanimously ratified a new contract on September 11. The three-year covers 2,500 workers and takes effect retroactively as of July 9, 2017, and expires on July 11, 2020.
The new contract increases starting pay, greatly improves wage scales, and provides for the same health insurance coverage and pension benefits without any additional employee contributions. The contract keeps successorship language, so members will remain employed and covered by their contract if Shoppers or any individual stores are sold. The contract also keeps seniority policies consistent with past practice, contrary to the company’s original demands.
“These talks were very difficult, but our members hung together and made this strong agreement possible,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “We came into this with specific goals. One was to change the hours progression to a monthly progression on the wage scale to get people raises faster than before. Another was to avoid any increase in members’ out-of-pocket health care costs, in contrast to what’s happening with most other employers. A third was to ensure proper pension funding. A fourth was to have a strong successorship agreement so our members will keep their jobs and contract if Shoppers is sold. And a fifth was to maintain seniority. Thanks to member activism, we achieved each of these goals.”
“The bargaining started on June 13th and ended August 24th, and there were a lot of blood and guts out there,” said Mike Rickord, a shop steward who works at Shoppers #2674 in Dumfries, Va., and served on the Contract Action Team. “We heard time and again the wishes of the members to keep everything we have, and we kept each and every one of our benefits, while increasing others. I can testify in front of God and country that this is an excellent contract for the next three years.”
“This was a long and drawn out fight with [Shoppers parent company] Supervalu,” said Diane Nokes, a Contract Action Committee member and shop steward at Shoppers #2625 in Manassas, Va. “I cannot tell you how many times they walked away from the table. We did our very best, worked long and hard, and got a good contract.”
“This is an excellent agreement,” said Debra Coleman, a Contract Action Team member and shop steward at Shoppers #2632 in Forestville, Md. “We worked hard from sunup to sundown, went to sleep and got up early to do it again. We are the union. Member participation was the key to everything.”