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Giant Eagle Workers Ink New Labor Contract

PITTSBURGH - Unionized workers at 36 company-owned Giant Eagle stores in the Pittsburgh area approved a new three-year agreement that was officially ratified in votes on June 27 and 28 by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) of Local 23. The new pact covers approximately 5,300 corporate Giant Eagle employees in 36 stores in four Pennsylvania counties and one store in West Virginia.

At a press conference held in Pittsburgh Tuesday morning, Giant Eagle special counsel Daniel Shapira said: "The terms of this labor agreement will benefit our valued employees as well as the company in its efforts to be the best food retailer. We are confident that this working relationship with our labor partners will position Giant Eagle to compete against the expanded set of new retail players in the food industry."

Citing the agreement's competitive wages and benefit packages designed to attract, recruit, and retain the best employees, Giant Eagle spokesman Rob Borella told Progressive Grocer that the new labor contract will give workers a raise in their hourly wage for each of the three years of the contract: 40 cents the first year and 35 cents each of the other two years. Further, workers will not be required to pay into the health care plans -- a stipulation that Borella said was a high priority for the union.

The new pact also provides for enhanced medical coverage available with 10 percent contribution from employees, improved holiday pay compensation for employees not receiving time-and-a-half, and flexibility to offer increased starting rates, individual increases, purchase discount plans, and other incentives to employees after discussion with the union.

According to the company, it can now better encourage and reward customer-service-oriented behavior and subsequent operating results, positioning it to attract the best available employees to provide customers with enhanced levels of service.

Aside from opportunities to earn two paid personal holidays, veteran employees who have earned five or more weeks of vacation will now be able to split another week of their vacation into days.

The labor contract also provides an opportunity for senior employees to elect a voluntary separation plan that allows certain employees to terminate their employment early at their discretion, said Borella, noting that agreements to modify the work rules will enable "Giant Eagle to better compete with an increasingly diverse set of competitive retailers. The ability to move people into different positions throughout the store ultimately supports our joint commitment to excellent customer service and enhanced training opportunities."
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