Wegmans officials say they are unsure of what will happen next now that a group of unionized employees has rejected its latest contract proposal.
The vote by Local 118 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters followed a Monday statement which called the contract Wegmans' "last, best and final" offer.
"The union claims that we are destroying Rochester jobs, which is untrue. We are proud of the 885 jobs for the employees in this bargaining unit. That’s up from 800 jobs just eight years ago in spite of the economic conditions and southern distribution center expansion at Wegmans." In a news release, the Teamsters discussed the rejected offer. “Our members flatly said no to an offer that would immediately cut their compensation package, eradicate our pension and leave our spouses’ health care in jeopardy,” said Kevin McIntosh, Teamsters Local 118 business agent. By rejecting the contract, Teamsters Local 118 also authorized strike action," said spokesman Kevin McIntosh.
“Stealing our pension and calling it a pay increase just does not pass the smell test. In fact, it wouldn’t pass second grade math,” McIntosh said of Wegmans’ reports that it is offering a pay increase of more than 18 percent when, in fact, it would eliminate the $4.82 members have voluntarily diverted from wages to their pension fund."
"The union also claims we’re eliminating pensions for our workers. Again, this is simply, not true. Our employees are currently enrolled in the New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund (the Fund), a plan that is grossly underfunded. For each dollar of retirement benefits promised by the Fund it has only $.46 in assets, and they project it to decline over time to $.34. We propose to move our people out of this failing fund, into the same secure plan we have for all our other employees and pay $136 million dollars to the Fund in withdrawal liability to preserve the pension benefits our people have earned to date," said Wegmans in a news release.
The union said the company also refused to agree to contract language that would protect spouses under the contract. “Refusing to negotiate language that protects our spouses’ health care coverage creates fear among every single Wegmans Teamster family,” McIntosh said.
The union has not officially indicated if it will go on strike.
Teamsters Local 118, which represents more than 900 Wegmans warehouse workers, drivers and other skilled trades, has been in negotiations with Wegmans since March.