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Raley's union employees back to work

POSTED November 13, 2012 9:35 p.m.

After more than a week, the picket lines in front of Raley’s and Nob Hill stores have come to an end.

A tentative agreement was reached Tuesday between Raley’s management and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which had been on strike since Nov. 4 over what it termed “unfair labor practices.”

“This is an important accomplishment for our members and retirees,” stated Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State, and Ron Lind, president of UFCW Local 5, in a joint release. “Because of the resolve and solidarity exhibited by our members and allies in the Labor Movement, along with the extraordinary support of our customers, we were able to address Raley’s competitive concerns while protecting our membership in a very challenging time. We now look forward to returning to work and serving our loyal customers.”

The settlement follows 15 months of bargaining. Approximately 7,000 workers will return to their posts, across 90 Raley’s and Nob Hill stores.

Neither side will comment on the terms of the tentative settlement, which must still go before union members for review and ratification. The settlement will not affect the union members’ health benefit plan, UFCW said, a plan identical to that agreed to by Save Mart and Safeway stores.

UFCW stated that the settlement does dictate that workers will maintain their positions, seniority, and health care eligibility upon returning to their jobs. No reprisals will occur against striking workers, and all replacement workers will be immediately discharged.

Throughout the nine day strike, sides differed on what exactly Raley’s management was proposing.

Raley’s representatives claimed the previously proposed contract would only freeze wages for two years, and eliminate premiums for working on Sundays and holidays. The premium reduction could be renegotiated after two years.

Those cutbacks were needed, Raley’s representatives stated, as 40 stores are losing between $500,000 and $2 million annually. UFCW officials alleged that Raley’s had not proven the cuts were needed, though Raley’s claimed it had repeatedly made financial information available to the union.

Additionally, UFCW officials claimed Raley’s had engaged in unfair labor practices, and has violated laws prohibiting harassment and intimidation of union members. They also alleged that Raley’s had not bargained in good faith, engaging in “regressive bargaining” by submitting proposals which were worse than previous offers.

Union officials also alleged that Raley’s first proposal would have “destroyed” employees’ healthcare plans; Raley’s officials said that proposal did not affect healthcare or retirement.

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