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Colorado/Wyoming Albertsons Employees OK New Contract via Mail-in Vote

DENVER -- Albertsons workers in Colorado and Wyoming approved a new four-year contract Saturday by an 85 percent margin. The contract, which went into effect Sunday, was the same as those accepted in March by employees of Safeway and Kroger-owned King Soopers and City Market.

Dave Minshall, spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 in Wheat Ridge, Colo., noted that less than half of the eligible 1,700 workers voted in the mail-in election, which he attributed to a lack of enthusiasm over the settlement. "Not one worker has told me this is a good contract," he said. The union and the supermarket companies have clashed over provisions to have workers pay more toward health care costs and to institute a two-tier wage scale for workers, with newer employees earning less. Another difficult issue that arose during the negotiations between the UFCW and Albertsons, according to the Longmont, Colo. Daily Times-Call, was a stipulation the union had pushed for that would permit all new Albertsons stores to automatically become union shops, a concession consented to by the company.

The new contract includes workers on Colorado's Western Slope and Wyoming for the first time.

Mail-in ballots from about 250 workers at four Albertsons-owned Grocery Warehouse and Max Foods stores in Denver are to be tallied on Friday, according to the union.

In other labor news, Duluth, Minn.-area supermarket workers have approved a three-year contract by "a pretty clear majority," according to Lane Harstad, president of the United Food & Commerical Workers Local 1116, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The contract, which went into effect Saturday, provides for members of the Area Retail Grocers Alliance to pay 100 percent of employee health insurance as well as modest pension increases and small wage increases for senior workers in the second and third years.

Among the grocery companies involved in the negotiations were local Super One stores owned by Miner's, Inc.; Mount Royal Fine Foods; Festival and Jubilee stores owned by Plaza Holding Co.; Ogle's Foods and Miner's Cub Foods in Grand Rapids; and Supervalu stores.

Local 1116 represents about 1,200 workers in those stores.
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