Local 876 Top News
Rite Aid Members Ratify Three-Year Agreement

Protecting Your Full-Time Status

Message from President Robinson


Rite Aid Members Ratify New Three-Year Agreement

PRESS RELEASE: Madison Heights, Michigan /April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ Today, Rite Aid Pharmacy workers across the state voted to ratify a new, three-year agreement negotiated by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 876, and the Rite Aid Bargaining Committee, that guarantees 7% wage increases for all 792 union members; protects both pension and health care benefits; as well as preserves all current holiday, vacation and personal days.   

“The legislative environment toward worker protections has been extremely turbulent throughout the country, to say the least.” Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. “This contract, and the solidarity of Rite Aid union members across Michigan, stand as a measure of a heighten awareness for the middle class. They are well aware they are under corporate attack; and the actions taken today to secure a solid contract were the only way to guarantee protections and benefits for their families.”

UFCW 876 represents nearly 800 Rite Aid Pharmacy workers across the state, working in 77 retail stores.

UFCW 876 is a progressive partner in building strong, healthy communities through solid wages, meaningful benefits and the means to a decent retirement through the protections of a union contract. Representing nearly 18,000 members in Michigan and 1.3 million members nationwide, UFCW is the largest private sector union in the country with members working in retail, grocery, meatpacking, and pharmaceutical, healthcare and automotive.


Protecting Full-Time Status - a Full-Time Job

March 19, 2013 - The expiration of one's full-time status can bring a great deal of stress for a member as many benefits and protections are determined by this status.

Securing, maintaining and monitoring a full-time status is the sole responsibility of each member, as most companies will only provide notification of its expiration. The company's stance is you have access to the collective bargaining agreement which fully explains the criteria surrounding a full-time qualification. However, a member can also request their status from the company if needed.

Monitoring your qualifying status can be easily done by reviewing your paycheck stub for total hours worked each week and maintaining a log in writing.

Full-time status determines eligibility for health care benefits scheduling rights, (working five, eight hour days each week) and holiday pay.
Full-time status is determined by a 12-week average of hours. For example, a Kroger member must work an average of 36 hours in a 12-week window to qualify. An easy way to maintain full time, is to secure a schedule that provides five, eight hour days consistently.

Inversely, a Kroger member would have to work 34 hours or less in a 12-week window in order to lose full-time status. These "rolling windows" or time frames determine many benefit eligibilities. It is important to note that in the Kroger contract, there are exemptions, meaning the months of June, July and August do not count toward the calculation of full-time status. However this window does not count against qualifying either.

Once a full-time status is lost, (working less than 34 hours weekly for 12 weeks) regaining it is very difficult. The grocery contract requires the acceptance of a posted job bid, possibly to another store, or making yourself completely available to work any available hours in your store on the appropriate schedule.
"It is important to know that full-time members, who are not working five, eight hour days, put their status in jeopardy." Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president said. "The company interprets this as a choice to relinquish a full-time status, and there is absolutely no amnesty if the database supports the loss."
Once a member has lost full-time status, they are then placed into the part-time schedule and are subjected to those criteria and hire dates / seniority. This movement will create significant reductions in scheduling, benefits and hours worked.

"Full-time members who believe they have wiggle room to take time off by either leaving an hour early here or there or by taking unpaid, personal days, generally find themselves in a bad position," Robinson said. "Managing and tracking time off can get convoluted quickly. Once that perceived wiggle room becomes nearly extinguished, a legitimate emergency exceeding this window could easily result in the loss of a full-time status."

A good way to monitor and protect one's full-time status is to alert the company with a written communication as soon as any schedule is posted that contains less than 40 hours in a week. That is five, eight hour days, not any other formulation of that calculation.

This written communication serves as not only notice, but also as a sort of "holder" to freeze your full-time date with no penalty. It provides the company opportunity to correct the situation by either modifying the existing schedule right away; or locate those hours in another store (within a 25 mile radius).
Members can protect their qualifying status with this written communication, but should also immediately be followed up with a phone call to their union representative.

"There is a lot on the line when it comes to losing a full-time status," Robinson said. "Protecting this is dependent on the alertness and savvy of the member as union representatives cannot monitor every schedule and paycheck stub."
"They can, however act on scheduling issues they are made aware of. 876 look to both members and Stewards to detect and report scheduling discrepancies."

2013 Geared Toward Protecting Your Future

March 19, 2014- 2013 brought many challenges to this local union and to all of labor - contractually and more significantly politically.

The year opened with the majority of 876 collective bargaining agreements due to expire. The urgency to ratify as many contracts as possible brought intense pressures but interestingly enough projected opportunity.

With the passage of Right to Work legislation, coupled with the inevitability of the Affordable Care Act, ushering in its unknowns; the perfect storm had arrived.

We encouraged every company to negotiate prior to the March deadline of the enactment of Right to Work. We did this to establish and protect a worker's right to be a union member, and to maintain contractual benefits and protections. And more importantly, to preserve their health and welfare benefits under the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund.

The pre-storm, strategy proved successful as nearly 19 companies, representing over 16,000 members, clearly recognized the importance of preserving basic worker rights, and provide health care through the Fund. This strategy created a safety zone for the thousands members and their families, keeping them from entering the health care exchange which is still taking shape.

Anti-worker legislation coupled with the ACA, created yet another economic shift felt by both employee and employer. A federally-driven program that re-defined part-time status in the face of thousands of union contracts resulted in a great deal of confusion. When merging the new law into contractual language, we find companies enacting scheduling changes to slow down opportunities to secure full time by reducing hours.

Again the contract language is in place to help members secure additional hours through job bids, transfers and the needs of the business in guaranteeing weekly hour quotas are met. Contractual language, if applied strategically, can protect part-time members.

This issue speaks to another, technology in the workplace. Although we must adhere to these changes, we must also monitor it carefully. This includes cashiering and coupon redemption, award card tracking, to scheduling software that oftentimes fails to balance seniority fairly or is manipulated prior to posting.

Union members across the nation are facing many adversities; but 876 continue to plan plenty of defense.

Preservation of union membership is detrimental to holding ground and maintaining current protections. We can do this by enacting several changes here at the union hall that will make us a stronger force.
Membership applications are a significant part of 876's success. This document holds every contractual right of a union member. It is a legal and binding document that lets an employer know you have the power of 1.3 million union members in the nation. The sheer number of members far outweighs the strength of any company, manager or boss.

Reducing the member / union representative ratio is a guaranteed way to keep communications open, keep issues at bay and keep contractual language strong.
The restructuring of 876 staff provides not only additional and targeted servicing for every member; it ensures a union education and understanding is part of that relationship. Union representatives have received the training needed to handle these specific adversities.

Giving more responsibility to the Steward's in grievance handling would allow them to handle preliminary findings of grievances. Training and working closely with union representatives is the key to this program. Stewards have the greatest grasp of their store's culture; therefore have the best perspective needed to be successful.

The 876 Executive Board and financial advisors have made our treasury one of the strongest. In a constant state of making movement in building our financial strength, 876 members can be assured we are prepared for the struggles working families most certainly face in the future.

Strategically planning for thefuture means we must make paths for upcoming generations. Currently, 876 is partnering with The Community Growth Partnership, a group dedicated to bringing fresh food, grocers and jobs into the city of Detroit. This food initiative program has several avenues for action: food access programs that build healthy communities; training programs for our youth to enter the grocery industry with the proper skills; and opportunities to affiliate workers as 876 union members.

We must change our culture as quickly as the industry changes theirs. We can become a stronger presence at the negotiation table, build trust within our own membership, and find the paths that bring us to real progressive change, together.

2014 Brings Pharmacy Benefit Changes

January 13, 2014 - Kroger members who are participants of the Michigan UFCW Unions & Employers Health & Welfare Fund are now required to fill prescriptions through the Kroger Prescription Plan / Program or (KPP). This can be done at any Kroger pharmacy.

Kroger members can expect a KPP ID card to arrive in the mail shortly. However, in the meantime, prescription benefits can be provided by securing a temporary KPP card as follows:

1. Visit www.kpp-rx.com, click "Member Services," and click "Kroger Employee Temporary ID Card." You will be able to download and print your personalized ID card once your registration is complete. Creating an account will be useful in the future to track medications, view history and monitor your benefits.
2. Call the Fund office at 1-800-322-8190, and they will provide to you a unique numerical identifier, Member ID / Social Security #, that would appear on your ID card, see above, and any other related information needed to fill your prescription.

For members who have other coverage for prescription benefits through a spouse, please note the pharmacist may have to call the KPP help desk number to verify the first time you fill a script at the Kroger pharmacy.

Non-Kroger Members Now Have CVS/Caremark

Non-Kroger members who are participants of the "Fund", will have a new prescription benefit manager, CVS Caremark and must use the network pharmacies listed below, or one of the CVS Pharmacies.

Harding's Market Pharmacy (Kalamazoo), Hollywood Market (Star Sav Mor) Pharmacy, Kroger Pharmacy, Meijer Pharmacy, (not Traverse City) Oleson's in Traverse City, Plumb's Market (Hackley Pharmacy) and select Rite Aid Pharmacies. Be sure to verify your chosen pharmacy continues to participate in the pharmacy network before filling a prescription and be sure to use your CVS/Caremark card.

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UFCW 876 2014 Scholarship

It's never too late to finish up; or get started on that degree you always wanted. All members are encouraged to apply, whether you are 18 or 88!

Download a Scholarship Application, here.