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Wegmans Food Market’s Rochester, N.Y.-based distribution and transportation employees, represented by Teamsters Local 118, have voted in favor of the grocer’s contract proposal, originally agreed to by Wegmans and the union on Oct. 12. The vote took place late last week.
The thorniest issue debated over nine months of sometimes contentious negotiations was Wegmans’ proposal to withdraw from the financially troubled New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund and move this group to the Wegmans Retirement Plan, which covers all other eligible Wegmans employees, including another Teamsters group.
The approved contract offers an immediate $1,000 lump sum payment for full-time employees ($500 for part-time), an 18 percent pay increase over the duration of the six-year contract, a move to the company’s fully funded retirement plan, and a package of retirement assistance options worth more than $10 million.
Upon approval of the contract, Wegmans immediately provided notice of its withdrawal from the Teamsters fund, and expects to begin withdrawal liability payments to the fund in the near future. The final withdrawal liability hasn’t yet been determined, but is anticipated to surpass $135 million and will help maintain the benefits already due to employees from the Teamsters fund.
Since the inception of the Wegmans Retirement Plan in 1953, the Rochester-based grocer has contributed to it annually. The annual contribution, determined by a formula incorporating years of service, has never been reduced.
“This process was extremely challenging, and we are happy to be returning to our core business of serving our customers during this very important time of year,” said Mike Cullen, Wegmans’ VP of distribution.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 83 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.