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King Soopers' "last, best and final" offer to grocery workers includes "ratification bonus" gift cards

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Update below:

Still no official comments about the "last, best and final" offers delivered to representatives of King Soopers and Safeway staffers on Monday from either the companies or the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. But a web page for King Soopers employees features the first details of the contract proposal that have surfaced thus far.

The big news: a "ratification bonus," in gift card form, of up to $1,000 if voters approve the contract. The implication: the firms want to do anything they can to avoid a strike right before the holidays, including offering unionized workers a payoff for cooperating.

For more of King Soopers' sales pitch to workers (complete with assorted misspellings; looks like a rush job), read on:

NEW: Last, Best and Final Offer

November 17, 2009

New Economic Benefits for You.

PUTS MONEY IN YOUR HANDS NOW WITH A RATIFICATION BONUS.

This is new and this gift card bonus is tax free to you (the company will pay the taxes). For employees with at least one year of service, here's what you will receive:

• Full-time top rates -- $1,000

• Part-time top rates -- $500

• In progressions -- $400

• Courtesy clerks -- $150

INCREASES YOUR WAGES.

This is a 52-month contract versus 60-month for previous offers, that's why net numbers are different. Here's what it does:

Head Clerks, Assistant Department and Department Managers will receive increases of 30¢ per hour the Sunday following ratification and 25¢ per hour increases for the next three years for a total increase of $1.05 an hour.

Associates who have achieved the journeyman level for their position will receive increases of 30¢ per hour the Sunday following ratification and 25¢ per hour increases for the next three years for a total increase of $1.05 an hour.

Associates below the journeyman level will receive pay increases as they advance to the next progression level for their classifcation [sic]. For some associates, it will mean 4 to 5 pay increases during the life of the contract.

Courtesy Clerks hired before the ratification vote will receive a 10¢ per hour increase the Sunday following ratification and for the next three years of the contract -- a total increase of 40¢ per hour. They also have the opportunity to advance to positions paying more.

EXPANDS HEALTH CARE AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO ASSOCIATES.

Adds new services for you and your family without increasing your premium contribution.

Includes routine physicals, mammograms, colonoscopies [sic], education programs for weight management, smoking cessation and high cholesterol, and other benefits.

HELPS STABLIZE [sic] YOUR PENSION FUND.

Increases accrual rates from previous proposals to $30.

Our plan adds nearly $40 million new dollars from the company to the pension fund.

It maintains Golden 80, with a new age requirement of 55 years compared from 50.

New hires will also be covered by the pension.

Update, 2:35 p.m.: Just received press releases from King Soopers and Safeway outlining their "last, best and final" offers. Here they are:

King Soopers provides strong Last, Best and Final Offer to UFCW Local 7

DENVER (November 18, 2009) -- King Soopers delivered its Last, Best and Final Offer to UFCW local 7 on Monday to be presented to employees for a vote. The offer includes bonuses, raises, increased healthcare and benefits, and nearly $40 million in additional payments to the retirement fund over the contract term.

Upon ratification of the agreement, employees who have been with the company for one consecutive year will receive bonus gift cards from King Soopers ranging from $150 to $1,000 depending position, status and length of service.

Once the contract is ratified, employees at the top of their pay scale (Journeyman or above), will receive a wage increase of 30 cents per hour in the first year of the contract with subsequent 25-cent an hour per year increases for the remainder of the 52-month contract. More than 65% of King Soopers' associates currently earn the top rate or above. Employees working toward top rates will receive between 4 and 5 increases during the contract.

Increases in healthcare benefits include coverage after one year of service for part-time associates' entire families for $60 per month. The plan, which does not increase employee contributions from the current contract, also adds a significant number of preventative services to the coverage.

"We encourage our associates to let their voices be heard and vote to ratify this contract by returning their ballots. King Soopers has offered bonuses, raises, increased healthcare benefits and nearly $40 million to help stabilize the pension fund in an economy where other companies are withholding raises, slashing healthcare benefits and freezing pensions," said Russ Dispense, President of King Soopers. "We have a great team that works hard to serve our customers every day, in every store and we appreciate their efforts throughout this process."

About King Soopers: King Soopers, Colorado's own full-service retail grocery chain, opened the doors of its first store in June of 1947 as the embodiment of the dream of its founder, Lloyd King. Today the company employs over 19,000 people and has 141 stores. The company is committed to being a good corporate citizen with a special focus on four major categories: feeding the hungry, helping children, supporting women's health issues, participating in important civic/community events. King Soopers' mission is to be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, health, personal care, and related consumable products and services. By achieving this objective, the company satisfies its responsibilities to shareowners, associates, customers, suppliers, and the communities we serve.

Safeway Presents UFCW Local 7 "Last, Best and Final Offer"

Safeway presented UFCW Local 7 with a Last, Best and Final Offer (LBFO) on Monday November 16 in an effort to reach new contracts for the company's Colorado employees represented by Local 7. Safeway had some eighteen (18) bargaining sessions with Local 7 since April 2009.

"A number of very difficult issues have been addressed during those sessions, but despite the company's efforts to address our differences with Local 7, we have remained apart on pensions as well as other core economic and operational issues," said Kris Staaf, Safeway Director of Public Affairs.

"This LBFO is Safeway's best effort to reach new contracts with Local 7 and we haven't held anything back," said Staaf.

The LBFO includes a very attractive ratification bonus for all employees who have been employed for a year or more by the date of the ratification, a 52-month contract term, wage increases, shortened dependent wait time for health benefits coverage and access to a new first class health and care management program. The LBFO also contains pension improvements over the company's previous offer including partially restored pension accruals.

"We believe we have provided our employees with a significantly improved offer that allows us to effectively compete, and helps protect our business and the jobs of our employees that are threatened by the growing presence of non-union, low cost operators in Colorado," said Staaf

The extended contracts expired on September 12, 2009 and covered approximately 7,000 Safeway employees.


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