Acme, union agree to terms

July 15, 2009 8:50:51 PM PDT
Labor peace has finally returned to Acme Markets and the company's employees.About two weeks ago, Acme employees unanimously voted down a proposed contract.

On Wednesday, they considered a new offer with a very different tone and a different outcome.

Acme workers had lots to cheer about as they voted to ratify a new contract with the supermarket.

"I'm happy. It's a good contract. It's good for everybody," employee Joe Frizzle said.

4,000 Acme workers from Philadelphia and the four surrounding counties worked without a contract for a year-and-a-half while their United Food and Commercial Workers Local worked through tough negotiations with Acme.

"A year and a half waiting and it was worth the wait," employee Cynthia Murray said.

Pensions, job security, and health benefits were major sticking points until the company and the union found common ground. The union successfully negotiated against the grocery store's desire to expand out sourcing. The contentious negotiations, which stalled several times, were made tougher by the ailing economy.

"Consumers cut back and stopped spending more in stores. We're very concerned about these jobs, these members, their families and their benefits. It was great to find a solution that the company can better compete with and our folks can take care of their families and have jobs," UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young said.

On Wednesday night, Acme workers voted 985 to 19 to ratify a new four year contract, that's a 98 to two percent margin. Among those casting a ballot, was 33-year Bensalem store employee, Joann Hosier.

"It's a relief. There's a lot of better things on the list. A lot of the bad taken out," Joann said.

"I'm very happy that we have a better contract for everybody. I think this is more fair for all of us," employee Vince Burris said.

In a joint statement with the union, Acme says it is pleased it succeeded in negotiating a new contract and affirming its labor management relationship.