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RICHARD BARRERA
Secretary-Treasurer

What is the Value of our Contracts?

UFCW Local 135 members fight hard to secure good contracts with all of our union employers. In order to secure strong contracts, we know that we have to stand together. Sometimes standing together means being willing to take strike votes, to talk to our customers about workers needing to make ends meet, to table outside of our stores and even to prepare for strikes when necessary.
When we’re willing to take these actions  our experience has been that the employers come to the bargaining table and agree on fair settlements.

But while we generally ratify our contracts by overwhelming margins, we sometimes need to stop and ask ourselves what specifically we gained in this round of contract negotiations. Some of the most important benefits that we win in a union contract are hard to place a dollar value on. These benefits include having union representation and due process to ensure that we’re treated with dignity and respect at the workplace. We also benefit from predictable schedules and the principle of seniority.

But other important benefits do directly impact our financial wellbeing. The attached chart demonstrates just how valuable successful contract negotiations can be. Last month, UFCW Local 135, along with our sister UFCW locals throughout Southern California successfully negotiated a new contract with CVS. The stakes were high in this round of negotiations because last year our local alone organized over 50 new CVS stores adding nearly 1,000 new members.

It was critical for our new CVS members, who stood strong during last year’s organizing campaign that their strength would result in making the lives of their families better. The new contract did just that. Some of the key financial elements of the new contract include across-the-board wage increases, a faster time period to reach the top wage rate, increased guaranteed hours, and perhaps most importantly, access to more affordable health care. As the chart on page 4 shows, our members in our newly organized CVS stores stand to benefit from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the four-year contract. The value of this contract exceeds the cost of dues anywhere from five times to 25 times for these new union members.

Over the next few months the union will produce similar charts for all of our contracts. So the next time somebody asks you “what do I get out of being in a union?” you will be able to give a specific answer that shows the difference that a strong union makes for our families’ bottom line.