Just days before the state's right-to-work law goes into effect, a union representing Kroger workers in Michigan pushed through a new contract that locks its members into paying dues or fees to the union for four years.
Grocery employees represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 876 ratified the agreement March 22, according to the union's website. The previous union contract was supposed to expire June 15, 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The weeks leading up to the law's start date on March 28 have been filled with public sector unions rushing to approve clauses in contracts that extend the forced payment of dues or fees. With the exception of Kroger, large, private sector companies have largely avoided making any deals with unions.
"Overall, the packages serve important protections to members throughout the state," Roger Robinson, UFCW 876 president, said in a press release. "More importantly, these contracts provide the securities working families need, as they are up against the uncertainties of Michigan's legislative whims and the Affordable Care Act."
Kroger’s Michigan Spokesman Dale Hollandsworth said the typical contract length is between three to five years.
"The company and union worked collaboratively to reach a good agreement for our associates," Hollandsworth said. "It is a very good package with hourly wage increases and affordable health care as the cornerstone of the contract. … There were no changes to any union security article as we were not required to address that issue at this time."