While we reached agreement on training language and maintaining minor economic benefits (e.g the Bike-to-Work program, the Flexible Spending Account, Transportation Assistance, etc) bargaining this week did not result in much movement on our key issues. Most important, co-op management has not offered a wage increase at all. We will need to show them that we are serious about winning a fair contract that provides living wages for employees.
The Union has given co-op management an opening wage proposal that provide significant wage increases to all co-op employees and raise the starting wage to $15/hr during the term of the contract. To date however, Co-op management has not even offered a proposal on wages. This is a major problem, given their refusal to meet more than 4.5 hours once per week.
We have secured an additional week of vacation for workers with less than one year of seniority (so you would get 80 hours of vacation at hire.) Co-op management has not, however, agreed to add more vacation for senior employees. Your bargaining committee feels strongly that additional paid time off would be a strong incentive to retain senior workers at the co-op, and we will continue to fight around this issue.
The union proposal would require management to “maintain staffing levels sufficient to ensure that employees can effectively perform the core functions of their jobs, provide the highest quality service to our customers, and fulfill the mission of the Co-op.” They have replied that they don’t understand what the word “sufficient” means. So far they have offered no solution to the chronic understaffing at the co-op. Again, management will need to hear from employees on this issue.
Our primary goal is to maintain the provider and coverage we currently have and to limit future cost increases. We are pushing for the union to play a stronger role in the insurance renewal process, so that we can ensure that our benefits are protected. While the two sides have moved closer on these issues, we have no agreement yet.
Other issues on the table
Still on the table are Union proposals for paid parental leave and paid lactation breaks. Management has still pushing for a full no-strike clause and a “managements rights” clause that would allow them significant flexibility to change working conditions during the term of the contract. The union has rejected these proposals.
We have informed Co-op management that we expect negotiations to conclude by March 11. We will then bring either a tentative agreement or management’s final offer to the membership for full discussion and a vote on whether to accept it.
These meetings will take place on Monday March 16 at the following times and places:
- 10 a.m. at Crucible (3116 Commercial Ave.)
- 3 p.m. at 301 Harbour Town Dr. (1st floor function room)
- 8 p.m. at the Social Justice Center (1202 Williamson St.)