The Union and Company Bargaining Committees reconvened for negotiations with Chief Supermarkets over the last two weeks. The new owner of Chief Company, Fresh Encounter/Community Markets CEO Michael Needler, Jr., led the Chief Company Bargaining Committee.
Members at Chief have made hard choices over the years in an effort to keep the Company competitive in an increasingly challenging industry. Smaller, regional supermarkets are being squeezed by large, national chains that have more locations, and often bigger margins and greater leverage with suppliers. We’ve seen this with Chief stores over the last four years, when the Company had to make big changes, including closing a store and selling its pharmacy business, in order to stay open and to compete.
When non-union companies are sold, new owners are free to liquidate assets, slash wages, or even lay off the existing workforce without considering the interests or input of employees. The sacrifice required to make a company competitive is often borne solely by workers and their families. Because Chief employees are union members, we have a voice in this process and a seat at the table. We succeeded in protecting our jobs, and Chief’s new owner has committed to work together with employees to turn the business around.
These were difficult negotiations; however, on Friday, December 19 we reached a tentative agreement in principle. The new agreement provides for guaranteed wage increases and protects affordable, quality health care. Your Union Bargaining Committee will continue to meet over the next couple weeks in order to complete the agreement and produce materials for ratification.
Ratification of the Chief agreement will be in the beginning of January; dates and locations are forthcoming. Details of the package will be available at the meetings.
For more information, please contact your Union Representative.