Collage of Local 853 members

UNFI unanimously pass new contract

The 37 drivers at UNFI in Gilroy unanimously ratified their new three-year contract in May. “They’re now making $11 more an hour than before they joined the union three years ago,” says Business Rep Ray Torres, who explained that these drivers deliver organic foods to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other organic food markets. “We also locked in their health benefits for the life of the agreement and got annual bonuses to help offset previous insurance increases.”

While the first contract was the union’s way into the door of this company, the second contract was able to correct what the union couldn’t get through the first time. “Our priority for the second contract was to improve picketing language so that our members could take actions on the job site and with customers, and to give me, the business rep, more access to the worksite. Now I have the ability to go to the worksite any time. We won both priorities.”

In addition to substantial wage and pension increases, Teamster members will now get any benefit that the company gives to the non-union employees. “This is huge,” adds Torres. “Immediately, it includes rain gear, safety shoes, and more.” And, the contract shortened the progression to reach “journeyman” pay scale from five years to 18 months. “This means that new hires will get two increases each year — their progression increase, which comes every six months until they reach the maximum level, and their annual increase.”

Torres wanted to recognize Ruben Lopez and Vince Rubacaba who served on the negotiating committee. “Actually, they’ve been there since day one—with the organizing drive, the first contract, and now the successor contract. They’ve been excellent spokespeople for the membership.”

Author: Local 853

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