Comparison of the collective bargaining agreements of Local 2110 UAW and Local 1199 SEIU with Columbia University and that of Local 338 RWDSU with the Independent Supermarket Operators of Greater New York, Inc. (ISOGNY), of which Morton Williams Associated is a member, and which governs the former University Food Market as well as West Side Market.
These agreements cover comparable work forces in the same neighborhood. Local 2110 represents (for example) cashiers at Columbia's Faculty House. The Local 1199 contract is specifically for cafeteria workers in Columbia's student dining halls. The contracts are similar in many respects; the following table highlights the areas in which they differ. The column headings are links to each contract.
|Local 2110 UAW||Local 1199 SEIU||Local 338 RWDSU|
|Effective Dates||1 Oct 2001 - 30 Sep 2003||1 Apr 2002 - 28 Feb 2006||Not specified|
|Employee Classifications||Six: Grades 5 to 9a.||Six: Grades A to F.||Two: Tiers A (Assistant Manager and above) and B (all others).|
|Wages||Minimum wages listed for employees in each grade with each level of seniority, ranging from $26,434.00 (grade 5, new hire) to $39,355.00 (grade 9a with 6 or more years seniority).||Minimum wages listed for employees in each grade with each level of seniority, ranging from $24,336.00 (grade A, new hire) to $38,792.00 (grade F with 3 or more years seniority). Shift differential for late shifts: 10%. Meal stipends and discounts.||Wage scales are not specified by the contract; employer "may pay wages in excess of federal and state minimums." $1/hour extra for working on Sunday.|
|Raises||3% per year = 40¢ for lowest, 60¢ or more for highest (4% for 2003 because of increased health plan cost).||Ratification bonus of $800, plus 3% in 2003, 3.5% in 2004 (+ $5-15/week seniority increment), 4% in 2005.||Tier A: 50¢ on each anniversary, plus 25¢ on the 42nd month. Tier B: 40¢ but no less than $15.00/week each anniversary, plus 35¢ on 42nd month. New employees receive a 25¢ increase on 31st day of employment and another 25¢ on the 91st day.|
|Probationary Period||60 days, extensible to 120. Employee can be terminated without recourse but has all other rights and benefits.||12 weeks, extensible by 30 days. Employee can be terminated without recourse but has all other rights and benefits.||90 days. Employee can be terminated without recourse.|
|Work Week||35 hours. Unpaid mealtime break up to 1 hour. Two 15-minute breaks with pay. Time-and-a-half for overtime.||40 hours. Unpaid mealtime break. Two 15-minute breaks with pay. Time-and-a-half for overtime.||40 hours with unpaid 30-minute mealtime break. Two 15-minute breaks with pay. Time-and-a-half for overtime.|
|Layoffs||Layoff/recall procedures defined, compensation and medical benefits provided during temporary layoffs.||Layoff/recall procedures defined, compensation and medical benefits provided during temporary layoffs.||Layoff/recall procedures defined.|
|Severance Pay||1 week's salary per year of service, up to 26.||1 week's salary per year of service, up to 26.||None.|
|Vacation||2 days per month of employment up to 20-25 days.||1-5 weeks, according to seniority.||2 weeks after first year of employment.|
|Paid Holidays||11 (after first 30 days)||14 (after first 30 days)||6 (after first 12 months)|
|Paid Sick Leave||7-30 days according to seniority||8-30 days according to seniority||6 days (after first 6 months)|
|Medical and Pension||Oxford or CIGNA after 6 months, University Pension Plan for Supporting Staff.||1199 National Benefit Fund after 2 months.||Local 338 Health And Welfare Fund after 12 months. For Tier B employees, family coverage starts after 24 months.|
|Working Parents||Employer will accommodate flex time for school pickup/dropoff, and will look into providing child care.||Employer will contribute to child care fund.||Management has exclusive right to set work schedules and to transfer workers.|
|Tuition Exemption||Self and children (amount unspecified)||7 credits / semester for self, spouse, or children.||None.|
|Job Upgrade Training||Employer pays for education and training programs||Employer pays for courses and adjusts schedules for attendance||None|
|Health and Safety||Two pages of provisions, including commitment to comply with ASHRAE standards for ventilation, temperature, and humidity.||Union/Management Health and Safety Committee, 1.5 pages of provisions.||1/3 page of provisions, agreeing to comply with laws and covering on-the-job injuries.|
Clearly the most significant differences are in compensation. UFM employees can be paid as little as $5.15 per hour. A Cashier with five years seniority receiving $7.00 per hour (which is typical) earns $13,650.00 per year. The minimum annual salary for the lowest level cafeteria worker (Porter) with the same seniority in the 1199 contract is $27,168.44, twice as much and, as is clear from the table, the 1199 Porter also has more rights and benefits. (Note that all former UFM employees have lost their health benefits for a full year -- and their families are without coverage for two years). To top it off, MW employees can be laid off at the employer's discretion with no severence pay.
How common is it for a collective bargaining agreement to omit any specification of minimum wages for the job and seniority levels it covers? Columbia University has twelve collective bargaining agreements for its Morningside, Harlem Hospital, Lamont, and Nevis locations. Every one of them includes tables of minimum wage/salary rates by grade and seniority. Searching the Web for collective bargaining agreements covering supermarkets, I find no contracts that do not include such tables, and in each case, the wages are considerably higher than at MW. Examples: UFCW / Shop-Rite Supermarkets; UFCW / P & C Food Markets; UFCW /&Allied Employers Inc.
If these union contracts are a representative sample, then it seems that a probationary period, during which newly hired workers can be fired for any reason at all without recourse to grievance or arbitration proceedings, is not unusual. In Columbia's case, a 250-year-old institution is hiring a new employee and wants to be satisfied that the employee can do the job. In the UFM case, new owners took over a store that had been in business for 46 years with a work force that included dozens of senior members -- people who had already demonstrated very well that they can do the job; not unknown new people walking in off the street. What is the purpose of "probation" in this case?
A second difference seems to be the degree to which union protections apply during probation. In the Columbia contracts, there is protection against everything but dismissal. At the food market, there were no protections at all and the union was completely absent (save for signing people up) during the first 90 days when all the wage cuts, schedule changes, transfers, and heat outages took place. At the end of the "probationary" period, MW had considerably reduced its payroll by ridding itself of more than 20 higher-paid employees left over from UFM.
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