Teamsters, Tops reach tentative agreement after strike at Tops Markets Distribution Center

view original post

The strike began Friday morning after Tops warehouse workers rejected the previous contract offer. A tentative 4-year agreement will go to a vote on Saturday.

LANCASTER, N.Y. — A strike is underway involving about 500 members of  Teamsters local 264 who work at the Tops distribution center on Genesee Street in Lancaster, but a tentative deal is now place.

Tops Markets on Friday evening issued a statement, saying a four-year deal was in place.

“Following thoughtful negotiations, Tops Markets and Teamsters Local Union #264, which represents our warehouse associates and drivers, have reached a tentative four-year agreement that will go to a vote on Saturday, June 8,” the Tops statement said.

“Given the support and collaboration of union leadership today, we are confident this new contract will be approved, allowing us to continue full operations at our distribution center and advance our shared mission of serving the grocery needs of our community.”

The company added that “as we await the vote, all our stores will remain open and serving customers as they have been throughout the day today.”

The strike began on Friday morning after members rejected the latest contract offer the company. The deal would have replaced the agreement that expired just over a week ago on May 31.

The strike does not involve employees inside Tops grocery stores.

The warehouse workers say they went on strike to gain wages to reflect an increased cost of living due to inflation.

“We’re not greedy, and we’re not looking to put this company out of business. We just want a piece of the pie and what working people deserve,” Local 264 business agent Darrin Ziemba said.

Ziemba declined to say what the offer entailed. However, according to sources, the contract offered but voted down included a wage increase of $5 per hour to be reached through smaller annual increments over the next five years.

Others said there was more at play.

“They offered us some raises and stuff, but they’re sacrificing the new people coming in, taking away their 401K, and making them pay a lot more for their medical and stuff like that,” warehouse worker Russ Vandermeulen said. 

In a statement, Tops said its latest offer contained an “industry-leading total compensation and benefits package” (see full statement below) but striking workers disputed that.

“We’re basically the bottom tier of unionized warehouses in this area,” said striking worker Nick King.

Some of the workers on the picket line predicted the strike wouldn’t last long, as Tops has to be mindful of the massive amount of food in the warehouse which has a limited shelf life.

However, replacement warehouse workers and truck drivers could be seen arriving early Friday morning.

Both Tops and the union confirmed that negotiations continued even as the strike got underway and both expressed hope that it will be over soon.

Tops early Friday statement regarding strike involving warehouse workers

“As we work diligently to reach a new contract agreement with Teamsters Local Union #264, which represents our warehouse associates and drivers, we will continue to serve our customers with normal operations at all our store locations. Plans are in place to ensure there is no service disruption. In the days to come, customers can expect the same service, selection, and value that they rely on from Tops.

Over the course of the last several months, we have negotiated in good faith to reach a long-term contract agreement with the union. Throughout the process, we have prioritized the needs and interests of all our associates, customers, and communities.

Tops’ latest offer contained an industry-leading total compensation and benefits package that exceeds any prior contract we’ve had in place with the union. After our proposed agreement was voted down Thursday, we immediately requested to resume negotiations to achieve a resolution as soon as possible. With our company’s long and proud union history, we value our partnership with local labor, and we are optimistic that we will soon reach a long-term agreement that meets our responsibility to our entire organization and allows us to fulfill our commitment to serving the grocery needs of our community.”

[embedded content]