In this issue of 99Report, we focus on the highlights of our outstanding new contract with the major supermarket companies, a contract Local 99 members voted to ratify.

The many outstanding improvements in this agreement should be obvious to anyone who takes the time to read it. In fact, in all my years in the industry, I have never seen raises this large, adding up to $3.00 an hour over the course of 17 months while maintaining health and welfare benefits!

I urge you to carefully read the highlights of this historic contract here.

Reaching this new agreement was no fluke. It was the crowning result of months and months of discussions, all the while keeping the members’ priorities for a great contract in mind.

How did we get the employers to agree to these wage increases while maintaining our current standards of benefits?

The answer can be summarized in a single word: SOLIDARITY.

In previous years, strike authorization votes were necessary in order to push the employers to negotiate seriously for a fair and equitable contract. The unity of our members in approving those authorizations sent a powerful message to the companies, which concluded correctly that good-faith bargaining had to begin at the start of negotiations.

So, as a result, we now have one of the best agreements ever negotiated by our union. And we did it without having to take a strike authorization vote.

Some voted no on this contract thinking a rejection would send us back to the bargaining table to get even more concessions from the employers.

Let’s be clear: A rejection of this contract would have meant the authorization of a strike potentially resulting in thousands of members walking off the job and rejecting a significant increase in pay.

A strike is a powerful weapon, but it is a weapon of last resort. No one wants to be out of work for months and months. If you doubt that, ask the writers and actors in Hollywood on strike for many months already. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a strike is the only way to fight a terrible contract proposal and to protect workers. This time, we had a great contract to bring back to our members.

Fortunately, a large majority of members listened to their union reps and did not give life to negative rumors and voted enthusiastically to approve the new agreement.

When we talked with members face to face about how strong this contract is, we were thanked with smiles of pride and expressions of deep gratitude. It was reassuring to see the relief and appreciation on members’ faces.

There’s always room for improvement and we’ll have an opportunity to improve on what we have a mere 30 months from now. For now, we can take pride in the terrific accomplishments of the current contract.

Thank you for your trust in your union’s leadership.

Thank you for disregarding the noise that comes from suspicious and uninformed sources. Many of the rumors came from people who don’t even work in the industry and aren’t even members. Remember, on social media, you really don’t know who you’re sharing information with.

Thank you for learning the facts.

And thank you, most of all, for your solidarity.