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Grocery store job action ends.

Negotiators for four grocery chains and Local 1262 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union ended a 22-day work stoppage when they reached agreement on separate but identical 4-year contracts. The agreements covered about 23,000 of the 28,000 workers the union represents at 248 of the chains' 312 stores in northern New Jersey and southern New York. Pathmark, Shop Rite, Foodtown, and Grand Union, the four chains involved in the job action, conducted separate but concurrent bargaining with Local 1262. The major issues in dispute focused on health care concerns, particularly employee cost sharing, limits on the choice of physicians, and health care benefits for retirees.

The contracts provided wage increases of $15 a week for full-time employees at the top of the wage progression, retroactive to June 6, 1993; $15 a week on April 10, 1994; $20 a week on April 9, 1995; and $15 a week on April 7, 1996. Wage increases for part-timers are 30 cents an hour in the first year, 25 cents an hour in the second and third years, and 30 cents an hour in the fourth year. In addition, the pact introduced a two-tier wage scale for new hires, which requires 48 months (formerly, 36 months) to reach the top pay rate of $540 (formerly, $560) per week.

Negotiators substituted managed care/point-of-service health care plans for the current indemnity reimbursement plans. In-network participants would not be required to share premium costs. However, effective in 1994, they would pay annual deductibles of $200 for single coverage and $400 for family coverage and 10 percent of expenses up to an annual maximum of $800 for single coverage and $1,600 for family coverage, advancing to $1,000 and $2,000, respectively, in 1995. Participants also would have copayments of $10 for doctors' office visits, increasing to $15 in 1996; several preventative care benefits, such as well-baby care and periodic examinations, paid at 100 percent after a $10 copayment for each visit; and 100 percent coverage for emergency room services after a $50 deductible.

In-network nonparticipants would pay annual deductibles of $300 for single coverage and $600 for family coverage and 30 percent of expenses up to an annual maximum of $1,200 for single coverage and $2,400 for family coverage, with increases in the annual maximum to $1,500 and $2,500, respectively, in 1996.

Employees living in areas where there is not access to in-network services would continue to use the current comprehensive major medical plan. They would pay the same annual deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket expenses as do in-network participants, but would be reimbursed at the 80-percent level.

Bargainers increased the copayment under the prescription drug program to $4 per prescription for brand name drugs and $1 for generic drugs. They also agreed to establish a "pharmacy network" and a voluntary maintenance drug program effective in 1996.

In the retirement area, the parties agreed to increase employer contributions to the pension fund by up to 34 percent over the term of the agreement and boosted the monthly pension rate by $3, to $33 per month for each year of credited service. They also agreed to maintain the current level of health care benefits for retirees.
COPYRIGHT 1993 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Title Annotation:labor contract ends strikes in New York and New Jersey stores
Author:Cimini, Michael H.; Behrmann, Susan L.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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