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    Union Rejects Schnucks Contract

    Authorizes strike vote; associates continue working as talks resume

    Schnuck Markets Inc. is back at the bargaining table after union associates at the St. Louis-based grocery chain voted to reject a proposed three-year contract.

    Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 voted 1,934 to 250 Monday night to reject the contract, the St. Louis Business Journal reported.

    Schnucks said the contract includes starting pay rate hikes and a shorter time period to advance through the first four pay brackets, along with cash bonuses and increasing wages at top pay rates.

    The company will meet with union leadership "for what we expect to be productive and meaningful discussions,” Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in a statement. "Our goal remains the same: to deliver a solution that works for our teammates. It is important that we do this while keeping our business positioned to compete against the more than 580 non-union supermarkets and stores that sell food throughout our metro area."

    Strike Not Imminent

    Local 355 leaders said Schnucks' proposed changes to seniority would eliminate 133 full-time jobs, while other changes would deny guarantees of a minimum 25-hour schedule for part-timer workers, could cut health care coverage for most or all part-time workers, and would eliminate holiday pay for new hires, the Journal reported.

    Though Monday’s vote authorized a strike, union officials say one isn't imminent and workers would report to work Tuesday. The union said in a release that it would give five days notice before picketing.

    “We are ready to re-enter negotiations with the expectation that Schnucks will re-consider their approach and be willing to bargain a fair agreement,” UFCW Local 655 President David Cook said in a statement, “instead of asking more than 4,500 hard-working employees to take continued cuts to their health care benefits and reduce their standard of living."

    The last strike at Schnucks, in 2003, lasted 28 days.

    The current contract, which covers more than 4,500 Schnucks associates, expired in May but has been extended on a day-to-day basis as negotiations continued, union officials told the Journal.

    Separately, Teamsters Local 688 is challenging Schnucks for cutting 190 warehouse jobs in Bridgeton, Mo., as part of moving to a new facility.

    Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets Inc. operates 99 stores and 94 in-store pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. 


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