PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. -- United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 here said its members have voted by an eight-to-one margin to ratify a new five-year contract with Acme Markets, Malvern, Pa.
The negotiations leading to the agreement, which covers 5,000 workers in eastern Pennsylvania, marked the first time the local had met across the table with representatives of Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, which acquired Acme in June as part of its merger with American Stores Co., Salt Lake City.
Wendell Young III, president of Local 1776, told SN the bargaining sessions were "a lot of work but not contentious."
Executives at Acme were not available for comment.
Young said the union successfully retained a clause about the need for the company to make a good faith effort to find a buyer if it plans to close a store. He said the local and management were still working to "define their intentions" on that wording. He also said there have been no store closings since Albertson's assumed control of Acme.
Young said the highlights of the new contract include:
Substantial improvements in the pension plan.
Continuation of current health and welfare benefits without employee co-payments.
Maintenance of current job security language.
The contract also contains some innovative benefits, according to Young. Employees are eligible for up to $1,000 in tuition reimbursement, and can send their children to one of 14 company-supported day care centers for $30 a week or receive a $50 a week day care reimbursement.
"The focus of the agreement is not only to ensure decent standards of living for members of UFCW Local 1776, but also to ensure the Acme will remain competitive in its market," said Young.