Dave Denton, store manager of the local Raley’s, 2550 S. Tracy Blvd., was in high spirits Tuesday when striking workers returned to their posts.
“I’m ecstatic, my employees are ecstatic,” Denton said. “There’s been a settlement. I don’t know the details. I’m happy to be back, and we’re opened up and ready to serve our customers for the holidays.”
According to a press release on Tuesday from Mike Teel, president of the West Sacramento-based grocery store chain, the agreement will have to be ratified by the union members, who are expected to recommend ratification. No date has been set for the union vote.
“This is very exciting, because this contract provides us with the cost savings we need to fund our vision and the initiatives to make us more competitive in the 21st century,” Teel stated. “It gives me great pleasure to know that as of today, our employees will be back to work serving our customers with the same attention and care as we have always served our customers at Raley’s and Nob Hill.”
UFCW spokeswoman Ellen Anreder said in a press release on Tuesday that the union confirmed that Raley’s officials agreed to keep and pay into the union health benefits plan. She said it’s the same plan agreed to by Save Mart Supermarkets and Safeway.
In an email to the Tracy Press dated Saturday, Nov. 10, Raley’s spokesman John Segale provided a comparison of a contract ratified by Save Mart and a proposal given to Raley’s employees five weeks ago. Employees authorized a strike in May after they turned down the proposal and hit the picket line on Nov. 4.
According to the email, a few of the offers Raley’s made to its employees before the strike included a pay freeze for two years and elimination of Sunday premium pay but no changes in their nine paid holidays, paid vacation time and same-night premium pay.
The Raley’s employees involved in the strike were courtesy clerks, who make $9.10 to $9.60 per hour greeting customers and bagging groceries, and clerks and senior clerks who act as cashiers for $9.95 to $21.13 per hour.
On health care, Save Mart officials had agreed to pay $6.45 starting Dec. 1 and $6.50 starting June 1 per hour worked toward each employee’s health care benefits, while Save Mart employees would contribute $10 to $100 weekly for coverage of a child or spouse, depending upon their health plan choices, according to Segale.
For Raley’s, employees would not have to make annual contributions to a Kaiser health care plan, but annual deductibles of $250 to $600 per person would be required for Blue Shield PPO Classic or Premier plans. Most retired employees 65 years and older could have their health benefit eliminated.
Segale reiterated Tuesday during a phone interview that these details were from five weeks ago, and that he has not seen the recent tentative agreement, because the details will not be made public until union members ratify the agreement.
He said he was unsure how much of the original proposal was agreed upon, but company officials were happy about the outcome.
“A lot of excitement here at Raley’s,” he said. “Got the cost savings that we needed … enables us to move forward with our vision.”
Anreder said union officials have not announced when they will vote on the contract proposal.
Although striking employees were highly visible outside the Raley’s store for more than a week, a few customers said Tuesday that the picket line did not deter them from going inside.
“I’m glad it’s over,” said Holly Archer, a regular at Raley’s. “It did not even stop me from shopping here because of the picketers. I noticed most of the strikers were not even Tracy employees.”
Sandy Ruiz said she was not completely comfortable going through the picket line with her 19-month-old daughter, Andrea, but she continued to visit Raley’s during the strike because of the store’s convenient location.
“Still need to get food,” she said.
Yukie McIntyre said she regularly shops somewhere else, but she was drawn to the specials the store offered during the strike.
“It didn’t really bother me,” she said. “They had deals that were hard to resist.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.