Stop & Shop workers approve new union pact
Published 7:54 am, Monday, March 11, 2013
Nearly a week after reaching a tentative agreement with Stop & Shop, local and regional grocery store workers made it official Sunday after they voted to ratify a new, three-year contract.
"We feel it is a fine settlement given the circumstances," said Mark A. Espinosa, president of Local 919 in Farmington, when contacted by telephone Sunday night.
"We are very pleased overall. The employees are satisfied," he said. "We took care of a lot of our pension concerns over the next three years. Everyone got raises -- three years of raises -- retroactive to Feb. 24." Espinosa said the new contract was also approved by four other unions -- representing some 15,000 workers in Connecticut and 40,000 throughout New England, including Local 371, a meat cutters union based in Norwalk that voted at the Crowne Plaza in Southbury on Sunday.
Stop & Shop operates more than 375 stores in New England, New York and New Jersey, according to the grocer's website. Many of those stores are in Southwestern Connecticut, including Bridgeport, Danbury, Stamford and Greenwich.
Stop & Shop and the United Food and Commercial Workers reached a tentative agreement March 4. But before the membership could vote on the deal, union officials said, it needed to be vetted by UFCW attorneys.
"Two of the main elements of the tentative agreement will deal with wages and health care, regarding coverage for part-time employees in particular," read a March 5 statement on the UFCW website. "Although the Affordable Care Act penalizes employers for not providing health insurance to full-time employees, there is no such penalty for not covering part-time workers.
"Therefore, the members involved in the joint negotiations have been fighting hard to ensure all workers are provided affordable coverage. The UFCW also supports the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights." Espinosa said health insurance for part-time employees remains a complicated issue because of changes in federal law.
"There is going to be a lot of adjustments next year for the part-timers who were previously covered," he said.
Espinosa said highlights of the agreement are expected to be posted Monday on the website, www.ufcw919.org.