Local 3 United Storeworkers RWDSU

Negotiations Update

April 24, 2012

Update letter, 4-24-2012

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 #2 dated April 23rd, 2012.

First of all we wanted to inform you that you’re Executive Board and your leadership team of President Cassandra Berrocal, Secretary Treasurer Shaun Kavanagh, and Recorder Costello Dash have all been doing an outstanding job of working as a team, in order to obtain the best possible contract for the members of RWDSU Local 3.

In the Company’s letter dated April 23rd, 2012 for the second time the Company has tried to portray the RWDSU International Representative as an “outside” influence. It truly is sad that the Company would try and portray any RWDSU representative as an “outside” influence. The RWDSU has represented workers at Bloomingdales and Macys for almost 75 years now, and it is very disappointing that they fail to acknowledge this fact. Local 3 has always traditionally had support during negotiations from the RWDSU International as requested by the Local President and Executive Board. We have no doubt that the Company would prefer that the International Union not support Local 3 members as they have done during this negotiations. We can assure you however, that the RWDSU International will continue to support and represent the members of Local 3 in every way possible, acting upon the request of your Local President Cassandra Berrocal and Local Executive Board.

The RWDSU International President Stuart Appelbaum, has done everything possible during these negotiations to make it clear to the Company that the RWDSU Local 3 members at Bloomingdales do not stand alone, but have the full support of the RWDSU International and the UFCW International behind them. A clear indication of this is that Local 3 has the full support of all of the New York City and New York State labor.

Mr. Mast’s letter misrepresented several facts about the RWDSU Health Care Plan in some key areas that must be corrected as follows:

1) The Company tries to portray the RWDSU health care plan as a “small plan”. The RWDSU health care plan uses Blue Cross and Blue Shield as a 3rd party carrier. Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is in fact one of the largest health care providers in the country and in our opinion is one of the best as well.

2) The Company claims that individual employee contributions to the plan have doubled in the last three years. This sadly is a total misrepresentation of the facts, but the Committee welcomes the opportunity for further discussions on this topic. Our members have made it clear that paying more for reduced benefits is a major concern.

3) The Company claims that participation in the RWDSU has gone down. This again is not accurate, participation has actually gone up. The plan covers over 6,500 people and is adding new groups regularly.

4) The Company claims that the RWDSU plan will “lose” $8 million dollars by 2014. This again is a total misrepresentation of the facts. As explained to the Company the RWDSU has planned a spend down of the reserves of the plan in an effort to hold the high costs of health care down for the plan participants.

5) The Company claims the RWDSU health care plan costs had increases of 17.8% and 14.2% in 2010 and 2011. This again is not correct, for both 2010 and 2011 the average cost increases were less than 7% for the RWDSU health care plan.

6) The Company also attacks the fact that the RWDSU health care plan has a reserve of almost 72 million dollars without bothering to check what lead to this reserve. The RWDSU has done an excellent job of keeping health care costs in check and investing their money wisely, which is why the plan can in fact spend down the reserves as planned by 8 million dollars by 2014, in order to help the Companies and the Union members of the plan keep their costs low.

7) The RWDSU health care plan national offices are in Alabama “where the plan was actually started” but the International headquarters is right here in New York City, as it has always been. Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a national health care provider with networks in every state in the country. Just like the Bloomingdale and Macy’s headquarters is in Cincinnati and Cigna is a 3rd party health care provider for them.

All of these misrepresentations by the Company demonstrate it’s attitude of attacking the Union health care plan alternative regardless of the actual facts involved. By this action the Company is smearing a proposal that they have not fully heard yet. It has not been fully explained to them because we are still waiting on a rate quote from the plan. The Company’s letter clearly shows that the Company is looking to attack any plan that does not provide them with total control. The Company’s stance as always is “go as the Company goes”, which of course leaves them in total control of health care, and the members paying anything that the “Company” determines is fair for them. The members of this Union have decided during the Union meetings and in their proposal surveys that health care is one of the primary concerns that they want addressed during this contract negotiation. The Union therefore is addressing health care as the members of this Union requested that President Berrocal and the negotiation committee do. Unlike the Company, the Union is fully committed to looking at every possible avenue to increase the member’s medical benefits while decreasing the cost for everyone.

We would also like to personally invite Mr. Mast to attend the negotiations sessions. This would provide him with the opportunity to actually hear the answers the Union provided when the Company made the above misrepresentations during the negotiations. The Union continues to negotiate with the Company in good faith in order to have a contract that the members of this Union can be proud of and that acknowledges all of their hard work and effort for the Company over the years.

We have no doubt that Company officials do not like to see the Negotiation Team work so well together and with such solidarity. Companies never seem to be able to understand the RWDSU family. You can be assured in spite of their objections we will all, as a team continue to work hard in the memberships’ interest during these contract negotiations.

Yours in Solidarity,

Local 3 RWDSU
Negotiation Committee

To download a printable version of the letter click here.