Western Grocery Workers Ratify New Labor Pacts; Preventative Care a Focus

SEATTLE - Employees of Safeway's Western Washington division, Kroger-owned QFC and Fred Meyer stores, and Supervalu-owned Albertsons yesterday ratified new three-year retail food and meat agreements that focus on win-win healthcare provisions.

The new agreements, which are effective immediately, will expire on May 1, 2010. They were ratified by members of UFCW Locals 21, 44, 81, and 367; and Teamsters Local 38.

"These new agreements will provide employees with among the best wages, benefits, and working conditions in the Northwest, while making certain Safeway can compete effectively in a very competitive marketplace," said Greg Sparks, president of Safeway's Seattle Division.

The agreements contain reforms in the healthcare plan that will create an improved health plan for the company's Western Washington employees, according to Safeway. The contract focuses on improving associates' health through prevention and wellness while simultaneously helping control escalating healthcare costs.

"Everyone involved recognized the tangible benefits of these programs and worked together diligently to craft innovative healthcare solutions," said Sparks.

The contract creates a restructured healthcare plan that provides each employee with health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and also strongly emphasizes preventive care, wellness programs, behavior change, and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, and asthma. To reinforce the value of preventative care, for example, the plan provides for reimbursement of 100 percent of the cost of measures such as mammograms, annual physicals, well-baby care, childhood immunizations, and prostate cancer screenings.

The Fred Meyer and QFC contracts cover grocery and meat associates and cashiers, representing 3,500 Fred Meyer associates and 4,500 QFC associates at stores in King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties.
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