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Teamsters members reject Wegmans contract proposal

By WILL ASTOR - 10/30/2013 4:19:13 PM

Union truckers and warehouse workers have turned down Wegmans Food Markets Inc.’s contract offer a second time, Wegmans officials said Tuesday.

Some 900 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 118 members in the roughly 4,000-member local’s Wegmans unit have been working without a contract since May. After voting down a Wegmans offer Sept. 30, the union authorized a strike but has so far not called for a walkout.

According to Wegmans, negotiations resumed Oct. 11 but broke down again with the union’s second rejection.

Union officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

A notice posted on the Local 118’s website states that the union has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against Wegmans with the National Labor Relations Board but did not detail the complaint’s charges.

How soon a complaint could be aired is not clear. The NLRB states on its website that it was closed for 16 days during Congress’ recent partial government shut down and that all its proceedings are delayed as a result.    

Retirement benefits have been a key sticking point in the contract talks. Wegmans wants the union to switch from a Teamsters retirement fund, which the supermarket chain says is underfunded, to a Wegmans retirement plan.

The union has resisted.

In a statement, Wegmans described its latest offer as calling for:

In a previous statement, Local 118 business agent Kevin McIntosh derided Wegmans’ claim to be offering an 18 percent wage hike as “disingenuous, at best.” Subtracting contributions the supermarket chain would no longer make to the union pension fund, the supposed wage hike would be “a loss, not a pay increase,” the union official maintained. 

The contentious contract talks came as the local, which has been riven by internal strife for some two years and under a trusteeship since last year, prepares to hold elections for the first time since Teamsters president James P. Hoffa, citing the Rochester-area local’s internecine conflict, called off a Local 118 election planned in 2012.

Two warring factions struggling for control of Local 118 have each in complaints filed with the union accused their rivals of embezzling union funds. One faction detailed its charges in two federal lawsuits targeting both its local rivals and the international union.

A notice currently posted on Local 118’s website by one of the two trustees Hoffa named to oversee the local’s affairs lays out a schedule calling for nominations in November and a vote to be held in December. Officials elected in the vote would take office after the trusteeship is lifted, the trustee said.   

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