Half Price Books Bargaining Update- August
The Union and the Employer met on July 19, 20, and 21, and again on July 26 and August 1 to make up for missed dates in May.
The bulk of the discussion was on the grievance procedure, seniority language, and establishing a labor-management committee. The two sides also came to an agreement on temporary workers.
The grievance procedure is extremely important, because without an effective grievance procedure it is almost impossible to enforce the other contract language we are bargaining over! After going back and forth, the workers on the committee feel like we are getting close to an agreement on how the grievance process will work- including the timeline to file a grievance, how class action grievances will work, and the arbitration process. The grievance procedure is also related to the Union’s agreement not to strike during the life of the contract- which we won’t agree to until we’re happy with the grievance procedure!
Seniority language is also extremely important- especially as it relates to layoffs. The workers know it’s important that if layoffs ever happen again, they should be decided in a way that’s fair, but the employer still wants to have full authority to decide who gets laid off and brought back first. The Union committee has requested information on how the layoff procedure worked last time to better understand the issues workers experienced and will counter when we have the information we need.
The Labor-Management Committee is important to the committee, but the Employer would like to have meetings with the entire staff in attendance. The Union is considering a counter that would hopefully satisfy the need for better communication between workers and the company and the Employer’s purported desire to not exclude anyone.
The agreement on temporary employees limits the time an employee can be considered temporary, and reverts their seniority back to their initial hire date if they are retained.
The committee was able to come to some agreements on other more minor but still important issues. On pay procedures, it was important that the way workers are paid is their choice. This language also prevents the employer from changing the way you get compensated to something undesirable later, like a high-fee prepaid card.
For breaks, the agreement is close to what is already allowed, but again this means break time can’t be reduced. An important change is that MODs who have to stay on call during their breaks will now be paid for the entire break.
For timekeeping, it was important to the committee that if a mobile app to clock in is implemented, it shouldn’t be the only way to clock in. Employees who choose not to have a smartphone or don’t want to use a mobile app cannot be made to.
On employee lists, the Union readily agrees to protect the worker information that is needed to manage Union benefits for employees under the contract, and the Employer agreed to update the list monthly instead of annually.
The Union bargaining committee will continue to fight for the best possible contract and hopes to have an agreement on the grievance procedure and progress on other key language items at our next session on the 30 and 31 of August and September 1.