November 4, 2004: Milwaukee Local 200 has won a strong new contract for the 650 Teamsters employed as warehouse workers and drivers at the Roundys grocery warehouse in Wauwautosa, Wis.
The union beat back management demands that members pay for health care, and won model production standards language. It is a big victory for the Roundys members and for the reform leadership of Local 200 that took office less than one year ago.
Under the new agreement, Roundys Teamsters will continue to have zero co-pay for their health insurance. This goes against the trend in the grocery industry, sometimes supported by top Teamster officials, of shifting health care costs to workers. This was management’s number one bargaining demand.
The union also won model production standards language. The new agreement allows the union to have six members, trained by the union, who will function as internal auditors. These members will monitor the company’s use of production standards.
If there is a disagreement between the union and management over a standard, management’s standard cannot be implemented until the dispute is arbitrated. This is a major improvement at a facility where grueling production standards have been a long-term problem.
The four-year contract includes wage increases of $.40-$.40-$.40-$.45.
Preparation and Priorities
In preparation for negotiations, the new Local 200 leadership conducted a member survey to guide bargaining demands. Members identified preserving health benefits and managing production standards as their top priorities. In addition to the bargaining committee of elected shop stewards, the local set up separate member subcommittees to tackle issues like benefits and production standards. The contract was approved by an 85% yes vote.
“We were all expecting that health care would have gotten hit, but we preserved it,” said Don Janz, a warehouse worker at Roundys. “And we got good contract language. We would have liked more on raises, but given the state of the economy we did all right. The majority of the guys are really pleased. In the 26 years I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen a contract so easily voted in.”