The Union and Management negotiating committees met last evening. We were able to reach tentative agreements on several important topics, and negotiations are now down to three remaining issues: wages, vacations and paid parental leave.
After spending several sessions discussing the urgent issue of co-op staffing, we reached agreement on a new labor-management committee that will discuss staffing issues and provide a forum to suggest ideas that would alleviate employee concerns about staffing. We believe that this is a good first step toward dealing with this issue.
The union had proposed paid lactation breaks to allow employees to express breast milk without losing income. Currently, these breaks are unpaid. While we were not able to achieve this during this round of bargaining, we did get co-op management to agree to allow employees to combine one of their paid 10-minute breaks with their Eggie Buzz and Axonify time, to create a block of paid time employees can use as a paid lactation break. This suggestion came directly from two bargaining unit members, and is a great example of how a member-run union should function.
We reached an agreement that will prevent job duties currently performed by workers in the union from being permanently transferred to management. The contract will allow management members to assist in performing bargaining unit work to the extent they do currently, but this language will prevent any permanent shift in responsibilities from the bargaining unit to management.
Co-op management made an important move last night, agreeing to provide some guaranteed wage increases to all employees. We have not, however, agreed on the amount of that wage increase. Currently, we are 25 cents apart on our wage proposals.
It’s clear that workers’ voices are starting to be heard on this issue. Earlier this week employees delivered a polite but firm message to site supervisors: all employees at the co-op deserve a wage increase. Hundreds of owners have now joined the Willy Street Co-op Member-Owner Solidarity Group and are actively leafletting their fellow owners and sending messages to co-op management supporting fair wage increases for all workers.
We have one more bargaining session scheduled with co-op management. We will work as hard as we can to reach a tentative agreement to bring to the membership at our upcoming meetings on Monday, March 16, and we expect management to do the same. We must, however, continue to make sure that the voices of co-op workers - the people who make this business run - are heard in order to achieve the fair contract we are all seeking. And we must be prepared to take action in case we are unable to reach an agreement next week.
Reminder: Meetings to Vote on the Contract: Monday, March 16
We will hold three meetings to vote on our contract on Monday, March 16. Only union members will be allowed to participate. You can sign a union card at the meeting or by asking your steward in advance of the meeting. You must be present at the meeting to vote on the contract.
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.)