MOKENA, IL | The Teamsters Local 710 Bargaining Committee for Jewel-Osco (a subsidiary of Albertsons) distribution workers have been meeting with the employer at the bargaining table for a little over a month. The Union is demanding a fair and equitable contract that respects the extraordinary work and sacrifice of the 710 bargaining units during these extraordinary times. The Committee is demanding that Jewel management respect the dignity of this membership especially while Jewel and Albertsons are making record profits. Sadly, little progress has been made, and there is little evidence that Jewel recognizes the value of this workforce.
The parties have exchanged proposals, including economic proposals, but the parties remain far apart. Notwithstanding record profits, Jewel is demanding a concessionary contract at virtually every area of the contract.
“We’ve made it perfectly clear to the employer that our committee speaks for the entire Jewel membership, and yet they refuse to listen,” said Secretary-Treasurer Mike Cales. “This contract is about fairness, equity, and dignity – yet the proposals Jewel is putting before this committee are blatantly disrespectful and a slap in the face of every single member at Jewel. Our brothers and sisters have made incredible sacrifices to ensure that our community grocery stores stayed stocked throughout the pandemic, and somehow, the employer fails to recognize that. We’re here to remind them.”
The Union has taken steps to hone in on the top issues brought forth by the membership, and has reiterated to the employer how important it is for all of these issues to be addressed. The Union’s proposals seek to:
- Address inequities from multiple tiers in the workforce
- Reduce the company’s reliance on third party workers
- Improve wages, healthcare and retirement benefits
- Allow members to have balance between work & family
- Support members to retire with dignity
Jewel’s approach, however, has been drastically different. Their proposals:
- Establish yet another lower tier of employees
- Dramatically increase the cost of the already substandard employer-sponsored healthcare
- Refuse to build a pathway to full rate for new hires
- Eliminate the benefits of the “Heavy 80%” workforce and the right of first refusal
- Reduce funding of members’ 401(k) plans
- Reduce premiums & guarantees for weekend work
- Eliminate the daily bid by seniority for janitors
- Refuse to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday
While the Company admits that it’s woefully understaffed and unable to attract sufficient new hires, it refuses to consider a reasonable pay structure for new hires. The consequence will be continued reliance on mandatory overtime and third party. Both are unacceptable.
The Union is considering taking a strike authorization vote with the members, which would give the 710 bargaining committee the power to call for a strike at any point throughout the remainder of negotiations.
Notably, members of Teamsters Local 104 at the Albertson’s southwest distribution center in Tolleson, Ariz. voted last week to authorize a strike of their own in a nearly unanimous vote.
“It’s frustrating to hear that our brothers & sisters across the country are dealing with the same problems we are,” said Keith Kazluski, a 31-year 710 member at Jewel and Business Agent. “We all take pride in the work we do for the communities we serve, and we want to do so with dignity and respect. This company needs to stop underestimating us and start listening.”
Bargaining is set to resume on Monday, February 15.
Teamsters Local 710 represents more than 850 warehouse workers, drivers, and dispatchers out of the Melrose Park, Ill. distribution center that services over 185 Jewel-Osco grocery stores throughout Chicagoland communities.
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