Schnucks employees sent to ease strike

Mid-Missourians fill in as the strike against St. Louis groceries continues.
Sunday, October 12, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:24 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

While Columbia’s Schnucks has not been affected directly by the St. Louis strike, mid-Missouri Schnucks managers and supervisors have been asked to travel to St. Louis to alleviate pressure from the strike of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655.” Columbia Schnucks stores will maintain their normal operating hours,” Jeff Zimmerman, Schnucks manager, said.

Lori Willis, Schnucks spokesperson, said she did not know how many workers from Columbia and Jefferson City have gone to St. Louis, but that the company was using all of its available resources.

Although the Columbia Schnucks has workers who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655, their separate contract was already established last fall and will be in place until 2005.

Some notable differences in the contracts are a lower pay scale in Columbia and a profit sharing program that is not offered to St. Louis workers.

Despite different contract schedules,any potential changes made in the St. Louis contract could affect Columbia Schnucks workers. The Columbia contract has a “me too” clause, which means that any provisions adopted by the St. Louis group concerning the Health and Welfare Trust Fund or the Pension Trust Fund will go into effect in Columbia as well.

St. Louis area Schnucks, Dierbergs and Shop ‘n Save stores had reduced their hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in response to the strike. Today, their hours will change to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. More than 4,500 new people have been hired in response to the strike.

The strike was targeted at Shop ‘n Save stores. Schnucks and Dierbergs union workers united with Shop ‘n Save employees in opposition when grocers agreed to lock out any Local 655 union workers when the strike began Oct. 7.

“Union members voted to strike by a 72 percent margin,” United Food and Commercial Workers Spokesperson Ed Finkelstein said. “That tells you the depth of the grievance against the company.”

Some of the grievance issues are reductions in pay, pensions and health care, Finkelstein said.

As of Saturday, there had been no discussions since the strike began, but the union is ready and willing to meet anytime, Finkelstein said.

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