After 7 months of negotiations with Kraft, Local 538 Union members voted to ratify a new four-year contract by a strong majority on June 30th. The contract took effect immediately and is retroactive to December 8, 2013, when the last contract expired.
Union members will receive a $1.40-an-hour increase over the next four years. The current average pay is $16.35 for factory production and sanitation workers and more than $20 an hour for maintenance staff. With the raise, these are higher wages than we have seen in the last 3 decades.
Pension benefits will change. Union members currently get both a company-funded pension and a 401K retirement account, part of which the company matches. With the new contract, monthly payments to pension accounts for current employees will increase but new employees will not be eligible for the pension, only the 401K.
Employees will get two $500 bonuses in January 2015 — one for ratifying the contract, the other because the employee cafeteria will close Jan. 1. The current hot entrees, made-to-order sandwiches and salad bar will be replaced by a 24-hour-a-day, self-service Market Cafe, with packaged foods from Aramark.
Fifteen employees of parent company Kraft Foods will lose their jobs in the cafeteria but will be eligible for bumping rights for other union-represented positions or will get enhanced retirement benefits.