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Talks between Raley’s and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8 ended late Friday afternoon after Raley’s refused to accept two union proposals which it said would have resulted in forcing the company to pay more than $20 million in additional annual costs and requiring it to give the union complete authority to develop a final contract without any input from the grocer.
“We were stunned and disappointed by the outrageous plan proposed by the union leaders which would increase our annual operating costs by an additional $20 million in the just the first year of the contract and by their absurd demand to give the union complete authority to write the contract without any input from us,” said John Segale, spokesperson for Raley’s Family of Fine Stores. “Everyone knows we are facing tremendous pressures from non-union competitors and we must reduce our operating costs to enable us to better compete in the future.”
According to Raley’s, the union’s proposal contained the following additional costs just in the first year of the contract:
- More than $5.5 million in signing bonuses of $900 for full-time employees and $650 for part-time employees
- A $1 increase for retiree health and welfare benefits, costing the company $12 million
- A health and welfare benefit increase to $6.50 per hour, costing the company $3 million
The proposal also calls for additional millions of dollars in annual increases in years two and three of the contract.
UFCW 8-Golden State said that Raley’s gave a misleading description of the Union’s most recent proposals for resolving their disagreements at the bargaining table. “In a press release sent out earlier today, Raley’s referred to two proposals made by our negotiating team, but merged them to give the false impression we were making unrealistic requests,” said UFCW 8-Golden State president Jacques Loveall. “Under the first proposal, Union and company auditors would examine Raley’s books and work together to determine a realistic budget for labor-related expenses. Then the Union would use its expertise to design a package of wages and benefits that would serve the needs of both the employer and the workers.”
“Unfortunately, Raley’s negotiators took this olive branch, broke it in half and threw it in our faces,” Loveall added. “Raley’s may not like our second proposal, but the company needs to take responsibility for its failure to provide adequate access to its financial records. That leaves us little option but to guess at the company’s ability to pay wages and benefits.”
Loveall noted such agreements are common in other industries, especially in the construction trades, and they have been useful in resolving stubborn problems in contract negotiations.
According to Raley’s, the union also demanded that Raley’s “empower the union’s bargaining committee” to draft a contract settlement with the “assurance of an unconditional recommendation of ratification to their membership.”
The proposal can be viewed on the union’s website:http://yourbreadandbutter.com/news/industry-discussions
“The very week that [Supervalu’s] Albertsons announces it will eliminate 2,500 UFCW union jobs at grocery stores throughout Southern California and Nevada, the local union leadership chooses to ignore reality and seems intent on forcing a strike that could destroy our company and potentially eliminate thousands of union jobs here,” said Segale.
No new talks are scheduled and the current contract extension is on a day-by-day basis.