Fighting Givebacks in Grocery

The contracts that cover thousands of Teamster drivers, office clerks, warehouse, manufacturing and dairy workers in the Southern California grocery industry will expire on September 20, 2020.

Ralphs-warehouse_thumb.jpgThe members of the seven Locals involved—63, 166, 495, 572, 630, 848 and 952—face serious threats.

Teamster members can win good contracts if we take united action.

The Issues

The contracts at Ralphs, Albertsons, Safeway, and UNFI have been a product of pattern bargaining for decades.

We have some of the best contracts in the industry. But over the last decade, employers have eroded our working conditions, wages, and benefits.

Members are fed up with unreasonable attendance policies, production standards, benefit cuts, seniority violations, job loss, and raises that have not kept up with inflation.

The recent merger of UNFI and SuperValu is threatening long-fought for industry standards and putting good Teamster grocery jobs in jeopardy.

Uniting to Win

This is no time for givebacks. Our employers are profitable. We can win good contracts, but not if we continue with business as usual.

As Teamsters we need to send the employers a signal that we are united against givebacks. Management needs to get that message from our leaders and from the rank and file.

The best ways to show the companies we are serious about getting good contracts is to mount a contract campaign that mobilizes and unites the members with regular contract campaign updates, stickers, petitions, T-shirts, rallies and action days.

Management needs to see Teamsters sharing information and taking coordinated action.

We should gear up a contract campaign now—not wait until negotiations hit a crisis point.

The best way for us to avoid a strike is for employers to see that we are prepared for one.

A Seat at the Table

We know that if you don’t have a seat at the table, then you’re probably on the menu. We want a seat at the table. Rank-and-file Teamsters need to be a part of the negotiating committee, not just officials and business agents.

We need to be part of formulating the proposals that are presented to management.

When an offer is ready to be voted on, members need an informed vote. We need everything in writing with ample time to review the proposals so we know what we’re voting on. No more sales jobs from the podium and side agreements popping up after the vote.

by Frank Halstead, Shop Steward Local 572, Ralphs Grocery Co. Compton, California

Five Steps to Winning a Good Contract

Survey the Members. A survey involves the members from step one in setting our contract goals.

Include Stewards on the Bargaining Team. Stewards are the front line of our union and should have a voice at the table when our contract is negotiated.

Form a Contract Action Team. Contract Action Team (CAT) volunteers keep the members informed, involved and united.

Take Action to Build Contract Unity. Teamsters in other industries have used contract campaign actions like Contract Unity Pledges, sticker days, T-shirts, and parking lot rallies to show management we’re united against givebacks.

Be Ready to Vote No. If the employers offer a weak contract with givebacks, we need to Vote No and send them back to the table.

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