What a Year it’s Been!
We had some critical victories this year with the CVS campaign and the new food contract.
Starting last February, our organizers Anabel Arauz and Jerry Singh worked around the clock for eight months to unionize CVS stores.
CVS workers needed a fair across the board standard. Workers in the south were making much less than in more affluent areas. They were at the company’s mercy.
There was one worker who worked for 10 years and had only a 10 cent raise in all that time. They got raises based on store performance and worker performance and when a new manager would come in, the process would start all over. It just wasn’t fair. Now it is.
In this case, CVS agreed to card check neutrality, which means that both the company and the union must stay neutral. The workers saw the potential and voted to go with UFCW Local 135, and some of them ended up with $5 or $6 raises.
Normally organizing a company is an adversarial process where it’s the union against the company. And it’s especially difficult when workers want better wages and conditions, but don’t want to anger their management.
With this campaign, we gained 52 new CVS stores and the promise of bringing in a whole new group of leaders.
I would like all of our members to support our CVS workers by shopping there and getting your prescriptions filled there. (See p. 14 for union CVS stores).
The food negotiations were a bear to deal with. They went on for months. Collective bargaining is a chess game. We don’t want the other side to know our moves until we make them. It is a very strategic process.
We were in crisis negotiations and we were preparing to strike. It was very stressful for you, our staff and for us on the UFCW negotiating team.
To add pressure to stalled negotiations, we held a strike authorization vote and staff and volunteers were out in June tabling and leafleting asking shoppers to support the workers.
When the stores’ negotiating team didn’t respond to that, we upped the ante by boycotting stores throughout Southern California. Apparently they noticed we were cutting into their profits, and that’s when it all changed.
At the start, the grocery stores attempted to reduce your pension benefits and accrual rates, but they did not succeed. They wanted to take away our Golden 85, and have us pay more into our health care and accept lump-sum bonuses instead of wage increases.
The Golden 85 remains intact. Medical benefits remain intact as well.
Progressions are coming much sooner, so our members can look forward to some bumps in pay with fewer hours needed to get to the next step. Plus, you get raises in all three years of the contract and there is full retroactivity back to March 6, 2016 for the Journeyman rates. We ended up with no concessions, only gains.
And of course, we had the elections. Our working family-friendly candidates won in San Diego County. They will be of great help to us in the future.
2016 went by so fast. Here we are already facing 2017. I bet it will be another successful year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!