Tamarkin union members accept severance package
Employees may be able to stay at the plant through June
By Kalea Hall
The Tamarkin union members overwhelmingly voted in favor of Giant Eagle’s severance package Wednesday.
The vote was 129 to 4. Teamsters Local 377, which represents the workers, has been told by the company with passage of the package the plant employees will be able to stay through June.
The original closure date of the Victoria Road facility was set for May.
The union said it also has also been told about 40 employees, including drivers, mechanics and maintenance workers, will be able to keep their jobs.
Earlier this week, however, Giant Eagle said it was unknown if any jobs would be maintained.
The severance package offered to the workers at the Giant Eagle subsidiary company for frozen foods includes a continuation of health care to a certain amount and pay dependent on the amount of time worked at the company.
For example, 20 years translates to 20 weeks of pay, the union said. Giant Eagle would not comment Wednesday on the severance package.
The 165-member union voted down Giant Eagle’s offer in October and December for various reasons.
A top concern was the switch from the pension fund to a 401K plan that drastically cut funds to workers.
Under the pension-fund plan, the company contributed $7 an hour, but the 401K plan called for a dramatic decrease because just 4 percent of the worker’s gross would be contributed under the that plan, said Ralph “Sam” Cook, the Teamsters Local 377 secretary treasurer.
The contract also included a change to the time frame for employees to call off. Employees were allowed to call off up to an hour before their shift, but the new contract required a call-off to be 24 hours before a shift.
Contract changes also impacted sick days, and, although there were wage increases, wages for new hires were to change.
Union members had to accept the changes in order for the company to go forward with an investment in building a new Mahoning Valley facility.