By Rebecca Rose
A tentative labor agreement between Smith’s Grocery and the union leadership representing employees was reached on Oct. 5. The fate of that agreement is now in the hands of union workers statewide, who will vote to accept or reject the offer.
On Friday, Oct. 8, workers at the Socorro Smith’s store voted overwhelmingly to accept the new agreement. The voting now moves to stores in other parts of the state, including Albuquerque and Farmington. The final vote will take place on Friday, Oct. 15.
The deal was reached after nearly six months of negotiations. Key points include better wages, improved retirement options, changes to working conditions and a stop to employee-paid increases in health care coverage.
According to Greg Frazier, President of United Food Commercial Workers Local 1564, the union is pleased with the outcome of the negations. “While you never get everything you want in bargaining, this agreement is very fair.”, Frazier said in an interview with Mountain Mail on Tuesday. “It was a long, hard process. We were battling corporate greed.”
Frazier cited Smith’s parent company Kroger’s recent success in collective bargaining agreements. “They’ve done very well on a national level. But in the end, the workers here in New Mexico were able to secure a good agreement.”
Smith's has 26 supermarkets in New Mexico and employs over 2,400 people across the state. In Socorro, the store is one of the town’s biggest employers. “We have approximately between 65-68 employees; probably about 40-50% are full time,” said Scott Jameson, Store Manager at the Smith’s Grocery Store on California. “All of them except two are union members.”
The union will reveal their final decision in mid-October, after all of the voting is complete.