Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 voted overwhelmingly against a contract proposed by Schnucks Markets and have authorized a strike. Contested issues on the proposed contract include benefit and wage issues such as pension contributions and vacation allowances. Schnucks also proposed a restructure of the number of hours reserved for full-time employees that the Union says would lead to the elimination of more than 100 full-time positions. Schnucks employs more than 4,500 workers covered by the collective bargaining agreement across the St. Louis metropolitan area.
The Union received the proposed contract five days prior to the vote; however the Union reportedly did not provide members with the contract until the night of the vote. Some members stated that they did not feel they had an adequate opportunity to review the proposed contract and reported receiving text messages or other communication from Union leaders telling them to “just vote no.”
In fact, it seems the Union may have begun its “vote no” campaign in advance of ever receiving the proposed contract. Schnucks Markets Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck stated management was “surprised and disappointed that union leadership suddenly kicked off a ‘vote no’ campaign well in advance of seeing the proposal on which our teammates will vote.” Schnuck stood up for the proposed contract put forth by the company stating, “We believe the proposed contract offer is worthy of a ‘yes’ vote by our teammates.”
While Union leaders are authorized to call for a strike, a strike is not imminent. The existing contract requires that the Union provide the company with five days’ notice prior to striking. Union leaders and Schnucks representatives still plan to meet and negotiate an agreeable contract; however, the strike authorization will surely be used by the Union as a bargaining chip.
Check the McMahon Berger blog for further updates as this situation evolves. If you have a question, the St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.