April 27, 2012
Update letter, 4-27-2012
To all RWDSU Local 3 members:
We wanted to take this opportunity to update everyone and we felt that it was important that we respond to Mr. Mast’s update letter #3 dated April 26th, 2012. Mr. Mast seems to want to be involved in the contract negotiations however he doesn’t attend the negotiation sessions as we have invited him to do.
We will provide a little history here to help everyone understand the issue currently being discussed in negotiations. The Storeworkers Security Plan was originally created from Union Members deferred wages in 1950 for the purpose of providing Medical benefits for the Union members. Since 2008 when the Medical plan was switched to the Company’s Cigna Health Care Plans the Storeworkers Security Plan has continued to fund additional benefits for Local 3 members including paid sick days and other benefits. The contract calls for continued funding to the plan minus the cost of the Cigna Health Care Plans and this system has created a surplus of funds available in the plan. It is the Union’s position that these funds should be used for the purpose of reducing the Cigna medical premium costs for the Union members, as is the purpose of the Storeworkers Security Plan. This would allow Union members to keep the same Cigna medical plans but for a significantly reduced weekly cost. As everyone knows many people have dropped health care coverage due to the high cost of the Cigna medical plans.
The Company continues to insist that the excess funds available in the Storeworkers Security plan not be used for health care but be taken away and used to fund the wage increases for this contract. In essence the Company is proposing robbing Peter to pay Paul. The Company is proposing to take the members money that was set aside for health care and give it back in another form, so that the contract will not add cost to the Company. In other words the Union members will pay for their own pay increases. The Company is doing extremely well and can more than afford to provide a good contract with benefits for their employees. A store like no other should reward the hard work of their employees like no other.
The Union strongly disagrees with the Company not wanting to pay for wage increases. The Union’s position is that funds that have been set aside for medical benefits by deferred wages from previous contracts should be used for the purpose that they were intended, and that is to provide more affordable medical coverage for those workers that need it and to improve the sick day payment for all eligible Union members. It is our hope that the Company will be more open to using these funds for the purpose that they were intended for and not make employees pay for their own wage increases. The Company during negotiations told the Union that the medical plan is good enough everywhere else so it should be “good enough” for the employees at 59th Street.
The Union remains totally committed to continue negotiations with the Company in good faith in an attempt to reach an agreement. But the closer it gets to the contract expiration, the more important it is for everyone to support each other and their Union. By standing together and letting management know that while none of us want a strike or work action here at Bloomingdales, we will not stand silent if they continue to demand that workers pay for their own wage increases while upper management make millions and millions of dollars, and the Company rakes in millions and millions in profits.
Yours in Solidarity, Local 3 RWDSU, Negotiation Committee
To download a printable version of the letter click here.