MAYS LANDING, N.J. — Union workers at 15 ShopRite stores in Southern New Jersey voted to ratify a new contract with their employer, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 152 here said Tuesday.


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Approval of the 16-month contract, which covers about 2,500 workers, concluded three months of negotiations between the union and ShopRite, the cooperative banner under Wakefern Food Corp., Keasbey, N.J. The agreement secures a wage increase, an increase in pension contributions by the employer and continuation of health benefits that do not require cost-sharing by the members.

"These were painstakingly difficult negotiations because of the uncertainties surrounding the Affordable Care Act," Brian String, UFCW Local 152 president, said in a statement. "Fortunately, both the union and the company were willing to roll up their sleeves and work on a solution."

Read more: Painful Procedure: ACA Adds Complexity to Contract Talks

Maintaining the workers' health benefits was the primary concern of the union's lead negotiating team and a 20-member negotiating committee of rank-and-file ShopRite members, String said.

ShopRite agreed to increase its health and welfare contributions by 19% over the course of the contract; and will increase its contributions to the workers' pension fund by 10% during the next 16 months in a continued effort to bring the fund back to "safe" status, the union said.

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