Safeway, King Soopers workers ratify new contract (finally)

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In a blog yesterday, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 spokesman Dave Minshall made it clear that the union backed a "yes" vote on a new contract with King Soopers and Safeway.

Denver-area workers definitely got the message. Late last night, Local 7 announced that the contract had been ratified by a wide margin, ending bickering and strike threats that went on for the better part of a year.

The big changes: Kim Cordova's election as union president (read a recent Westword feature about her by clicking here) and a funds transfer that helps rein in rising health-care costs for retirees. Get more details from the Local 7 release below:

Metro Area Safeway, King Soopers Workers "Overwhelmingly" Ratify Four-Year Contract

Agreement Gives 3000 Grocery Workers Ratification Bonus, Wage Hike, Better Insurance Coverage, Stabilized Pension

New Part of Deal Heads off Big Health Insurance Premium Hike for Grocery Retirees

(UFCW Local 7, Wheat Ride, CO. Feb 4, 2010) -- Metro area Safeway and King Soopers grocery store clerks and meat cutters Thursday night voted "overwhelmingly" to ratify a four-year contract that they rejected in a vote late last year. The new agreement covers about 3,000 retail clerks and meat cutters in Denver, Broomfield, Parker and Castle Pines.

UFCW-Local 7 backed the "yes" vote, because a new part of the agreement heads off a 21% health insurance premium hike faced by 2,000 retired workers, in addition to the original offer of a ratification bonus, wage hikes, improved health care benefits, and a plan to stabilize the pension plan.

After an audit of the insurance plans by Local 7, President Kim Cordova persuaded the chain stores to transfer a $12-million surplus from the active employees insurance trust to the retiree's health fund.

The transfer won't cost the corporations anything, the active employees won't have to pay more for health insurance, and the retirees won't have to face huge health insurance premiums hikes.

President Cordova said workers on negotiating committees backed the deal after the corporations agreed to help retirees.

"The workers said they wanted to vote the deal again, and the workers run Local 7," Cordova said.

"The new contract is a win-win for everybody... the active employees and retirees," said Local 7 spokesperson Dave Minshall

The new metro area contracts go into effect at once, but some grocery workers around the state who said "no" to the initial contract still will vote again.

Colorado Springs Safeway retail and meat and Fountain Safeway meat will vote on the new tentative agreement Friday, February 5. Pueblo workers vote next Monday. Workers in other parts of the state that rejected the original offer will vote in the next couple of weeks.

All Albertsons stores in Colorado already ratified the contract.

UFCW Local 7 represents about 14,000 grocery store workers in Colorado and Wyoming.

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