United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655, which represents about 4,600 Schnucks employees in St. Louis and Missouri, is crowing over the new three-year union contract with the hometown grocery chain.
“This is arguably the best contract in our history,” said UFCW Local 655 President David Cook. “Many of these men and women worked through a pandemic and not only are they receiving substantial pay increases, but we’ve also been able to improve their healthcare benefits without raising costs to workers by a single penny.”
Local 655 anticipates a vote on a Dierbergs contract with a similar economic package in the coming weeks.
United Food Commercial Workers Local 655 is the largest private-sector local union in Missouri. It represents more than 8,500 partners in the central and eastern portions of the state, primarily in the grocery industry, as well as in food processing, food service, and manufacturing.
Local 881, which represents workers on the Illinois side, participated in the 655 talks, and observers believe that a similar, positive contract will eventually be presented in Illinois.
Union 655 members gathered in the Family Arena in St. Charles where 56 percent of them voted to approve the new contract. Negotiations began in late February — much earlier than in previous years — because both Schnucks and Local 655 agreed that it was critical to get money in workers’ pockets quickly. The Schnucks contract also sets the economic table for union negotiations with other local grocery chains, like Dierbergs and Straubs.
“We are pleased that our UFCW Local 655 teammates voted to approve our latest contract proposal,” said David Bell, Schnucks chief financial officer. “Over the last two years, our communities have come to know what we have known for many years – that our Schnucks teammates serve an important role taking care of our customers. This was top of mind for us as we worked with Local 655 on this new package that received the unanimous approval of their bargaining committee and union leadership.”
“I want to thank Schnucks for engaging good faith bargaining,” Cook said. “We don’t always see eye-to-eye but we understand that the best outcome is one that provides good jobs for our partners while also allowing Schnucks to be competitive against non-union employers.”
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services participated in bargaining from day one, and Cook thanked them for their hard work.
“FMCS plays a really important role and they are critical in this process,” Cook said.
- The most recent 3-year contract expired earlier this month. Schnucks and UFCW Local 655 began meeting in late February for negotiations and met multiple times per week to finalize a new agreement.
- The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service assisted in the talks from their beginning.
- The current contract proposal covers Schnucks employees only.
- The current union contract covers more than 4,600 Local 655 partners working at 64 Schnucks Markets location across the eastern side of Missouri.
- The UFCW Local 655 bargaining committee consisted of Local 655 staff and leadership along with 6 rank-and-file partners working in stores. Representatives from UFCW Local 88 and Local 881 were also present.
- Approximately 2,000 Local 655 partners participated in at least one of the telephone town hall opening contract meetings late last year, and more than 1,600 partners participated in a lengthy survey conducted by the union about priorities heading into negotiations.
- Employees covered by the union contract include checkers, baggers, stockers, department managers as well as workers in a wide variety of other departments including bakery, produce, dairy and frozen foods.
- Local 655 represents about 8,5000 members working in the 46 counties throughout the eastern half of Missouri, and is the largest private-sector local Union in the state: Local 655’s members are employed in food stores (its largest single division), shoe manufacturing, packinghouses, distribution centers and a number of miscellaneous plants.
The union bargaining committee consists of union leadership as well as rank-and-file union partners. The bargaining committee is unanimously recommending that Schnucks employees accept the current contract offer. Some highlights include:
- Expansion of Health & Welfare benefits at no additional cost to the employees
- New premium pay for overnight workers
- New premium pay for employees that serve in leadership roles in their store
- The largest wage increases in Local 655 history, on top of guaranteed hours-based raises
- Up to 2 weeks of vacation payout at the end of the calendar year
- Preservation of pension benefits at no additional cost to Schnucks.
- Unprecedented new contract language to allow workers to write their own schedules and work at the stores of their choosing. This hours maximization and Part-Time Flex workforce language is the first of its kind in the nation.