The Retail Supermarket Industry Bargaining committees met Thursday, July 24 at Local 1189’s Union Hall in an effort to break the stalemate over competing proposals regarding our health insurance plan. The Union withdrew all its previous health insurance proposals and presented the Employer group with a new proposal that covered both health insurance and significant wage increases for all classifications. President Seaquist presented the proposal and explained our rationale for keeping it simple. UnionH&Wproposal072414.pdfThe Union is proposing to maintain health insurance coverage for all existing eligible members working 20 or more hours per week. For members losing coverage, our wage proposal was for an initial increase of $1.80/hour for this group of members. This would ensure their financial ability to purchase coverage through the state/federal health insurance exchanges. Additional significant wage increases were proposed for all other classifications in order to cover insurance costs for members who retain coverage under the 1189 Plan. The Employer group took the Union proposal under advisement and, after spending the morning evaluating its effect, told our committee they needed to further cost the proposal before responding. We have scheduled two additional sessions for bargaining. They are on Monday, August 4 and Tuesday, August 5. We will again update at the conclusion of these sessions.

After day-long bargaining, it became apparent to our bargaining committee that we were making no headway in reaching agreement on non-monetary issues. Union negotiators informed the Employer that we would no longer move on contractual language proposals without seeing equivalent movement from the Employer.

Currently SuperOne is proposing to eliminate health care benefits from over 300 of our members. This proposal alone has lit a fire under our members. Actions surrounding the protection of our health care benefits are being planned, so stay in communication with stewards and other Union activists for more information.

The federal mediator assigned to these negotiations recognized the stalemate and informed both parties that further negotiations would be suspended until she met with the lead negotiators. This meeting will occur today, Friday, June 27. At this meeting, future dates will be determined along with a process for achieving success in future bargaining sessions. We will continue to update and inform our members when we return to the bargaining table.

Related negotiations

6/25/14 South St. Paul -- "That won't work for us and it won't work for our members," said President Don Seaquist to area employers Lunds/Byerlys, Jerry's Cub, Cub Corporate, Festival, and Kowalski's.  After several sub-committee sessions to explore solutions to providing health care coverage for St. Paul area grocery workers, the Employer group showed its typical lack of creativity and continued with its proposal to take healthcare away from the majority of part-time workers pushing them to the exchanges with no additional compensation.

The Employer’s proposal is in stark contrast to the Union proposal, which shares the increased cost of coverage, enabling the majority of members who have coverage to continue to receive benefits, moving significantly fewer members to the exchanges, and proposing compensation in the form of annual bonuses for members who lose coverage in each year of the agreement.

"57% will have to buy it elsewhere with no dollars to do it," said Seaquist, expressing the frustration of the Union bargaining committee, "speaking on behalf of the members, this is a non-starter."  Union committee members discussed schedules for informational picketing at each of the Employers.  Members are encouraged to watch their email for more information.

Future negotiations are set for 7/24, 8/4 and 8/5. 

employer062514.pdf Employer Health Care Proposal

union062514.pdfUnion Health Care Proposal

On June 25th, all major retail supermarket employers, along with the union bargaining committee, will meet at 9AM at the Union Hall to continue negotiations for a new agreement. Since we last met, a sub-committee was formed in an effort to bring back to the full committees a recommendation on health care. This sub-committee met twice without reaching any recommendations related to contributions, design or future eligibility criteria. No decisions were made as to how we would meet our fund shortfall of over $6 million. We are inviting members of the Rainbow bargaining committee to future sessions, although Roundy’s, their current employer will not be participating. Rainbow committee members will be part of their new employers bargaining committee once the sale has been completed. We will again update everyone at the conclusion of bargaining on June 25th. --Don Seaquist, President

The parties met for their initial negotiation session today.  While the Union was looking forward to a return to our previously collaborative and productive relationship, Essentia’s phrase of the day was “we’re not interested in that at this time.” At issue are wages, benefits, vacation scheduling, and even whether or not the Union negotiating team should be provided with benefit hours while they’re negotiating, which flies in the face of the past 20 years of negotiating with this employer. 

The parties meet again on May 29 and the Union is hopeful that the spring thaw will have come to the icy heart of Essentia.