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After weeks of tense negotiations, unionized employees at Philadelphia-based Acme Markets reached a new labor accord with the company that runs through February 2012. In a 985-19 vote, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776, which represents 4,000 Delaware Valley Acme workers, agreed to a contract that continues the health care plan and secures pensions.
The new pact -- which covers 40 Acme stores in Philadelphia and its surrounding Pennsylvania counties -- puts to rest simmering hostilities between local labor leaders and management of Supervalu’s eastern Pennsylvania subsidiary, whose unionized employees worked without a contract for a year-and-a-half, and which earlier this month overwhelmingly rejected what Acme management said was its best offer.
Pensions, job security, and health benefits were major sticking points of the talks, which were ultimately successfully negotiated after several stalled attempts that were exacerbated by a weak economy and intensifying competition from non-union retailers in the greater Philadelphia market.
An e-mail to Progressive Grocer from Acme Markets expressed gratitude to “our associates for ratifying the contract…We are pleased that this contract continues our tradition of providing a leading overall compensation package for grocery workers in the greater Philadelphia marketplace, and we look forward to continuing to provide this community with the quality and service they have come to rely upon at Acme Markets during the past 119 years.”
In addition to addressing pension and health care concerns, key provisions of the new contract include allowing Acme to lease certain departments while keeping core departments union-staffed, preventing Acme from covering a pension with wages or health insurance contributions, and giving raises in four lump-sum payments over the life of the contract, which runs until February 2012.