Minneapolis Retail Grocery Contract Ratification: Bittersweet
By Matt Utecht
Sunday, March 2, 2014, concluded six weeks of “heated” contract negotiations between UFCW Local 653 and our Minneapolis retail grocery store owners. Due to the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the process of negotiations never really concluded after last year’s one-year contract settlement.
Over the summer months of 2013 the framework of the ACA began to become a bit clearer and it became more evident what the scope of its impact on our Health & Welfare fund would be: A shrinking number of participants in both the Health & Welfare and Pension funds over the past number of years and no increases to the level of contributions going into the fund for the past seven years puts our Health & Welfare fund on a course which–left unchanged–would bankrupt the fund in two years.
As Local 653’s new President, I, along with the negotiating committee and the employer group, were given a list of options that ranged from “bad to worse” that if made would get our Health & Welfare fund back to where it should be financially, while also becoming compliant with the Federal government (ACA). The decisions that were made were painful, and they came only after months of research by the Health & Welfare Board of Trustees, fund attorneys, and actuarial studies that were done. We “turned every stone” looking for a solution that would create the least amount of pain to the fewest people. The changes to the fund were not the result of the union or management wanting to make them—we had to!
If you can get beyond the Health & Welfare changes made, many very good things resulted from these negotiations as you can see in the final offer posted below.
The contract was ratified, and now we can move forward and build off this settlement in another two years.
A special thank you to the Executive Board, Negotiating Committee members and Local 653 staff for all your long hours and commitment to your fellow union members in what were some of the most difficult contract negotiations in decades!