Among the 30,000 members of UFCW Local 75 are about 4,000 members working in Meijer stores in Northern Kentucky and Lexington, Cincinnati, and Dayton, and in the Tipp City distribution center. Meijer members in Toledo stores are generally represented by Columbus-based UFCW Local 1059. There are also UFCW members working at Meijer stores in Michigan and throughout the rest of Kentucky, while most Meijer workers in Indiana and Wisconsin stores do not have the protection and guarantees of a union contract.
The Meijer agreements differ a bit from other major grocery contracts in a couple different ways. First, while workers at Meijer are members of UFCW Local 75, there is not one union contract covering all of the work locations. There are seven contracts between Meijer and UFCW Local 75; some cover only a single store, others cover a group of stores. Second, the Meijer distribution center and Dayton stores are covered by one agreement. Third, health care benefits are negotiated as part of Meijer’s Universal Benefits Agreement (UBA), which is applicable to all members working union Meijer stores.
Because of this structure, the approach to Meijer is different than with other grocery retailers. UFCW Locals in Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan are joining together for a better Meijer. This fall, the Locals kicked off a workplace action program in Meijer facilities. We had training on health and safety in the workplace so that we could identify and mitigate potential hazards. As a result, we identified a number of potential safety issues, which have been reported to company safety committees and representatives. Union representatives will follow up on these issues to ensure they have been remedied. Every Local Union who is participating in the program has taken the same action.
Our new workplace action program will help us build for negotiations not only at our Local union, but throughout the region. The UBA covers all Meijer employees and will expire in spring of 2016. The UBA also covers nonunion workers, but is voted on by eligible Meijer members in Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. It is negotiated by representatives from every Local union with members working at Meijer. Bargaining health care benefits is always a challenge, but negotiations over the UBA are particularly complex.
If you are interested in being part of our member action program in Meijer stores, please contact your union representative. Enforcing the contract every day and sticking together through negotiations is how we build a stronger Meijer now and for the future.