For immediate release
August 9, 2005
Gate Gourmet Teamsters and UNITE HERE Members Win Health Care Reinstatement
Unions Strike Deal to Protect Workers From Court-Imposed Concessions
Days of hard negotiating at the bargaining table, combined with Teamster and UNITE HERE rank-and-file solidarity in the workplace has produced important victories for Gate Gourmet workers and their families.
As of September 1, 2005, health care coverage for Gate Gourmet employees and their families will be reinstated. This means that more than 3,000 Gate Gourmet workers and their families covered by the company health care plan on June 30, 2005, are once again covered.
“This is a major victory for union members employed by Gate Gourmet,” said Steve Vairma, Teamster chief Gate Gourmet negotiator and principal officer of Teamster Local 435 in Denver, CO. “The company realized that workers in Gate Gourmet kitchens around the country were not just going to sit on their hands and allow management to take health care away from their families.”
Under the terms of the agreement, all Gate Gourmet employees and family members, who were covered on June 30, will once again be covered. Gate Gourmet unilaterally changed its health care plan, drastically raising the workers’ costs on July 1, 2005. These changes forced the majority of workers on the health care plan to drop coverage.
In another important victory for Gate Gourmet union members, the company has agreed to place all outstanding collective bargaining issues before a special three-member arbitration panel that will issue its ruling by December 1, 2005.
“This special panel reduces the odds of having a bankruptcy judge rule on our issues,” said Vairma. “The panel, made up of one arbitrator picked by the unions, one picked by management and one agreed on by both unions and management, will be in place by October 1, 2005, and must conclude its hearing by October 29, 2005 and issue its ruling by December 1, 2005.”
According to Vairma, the three-member arbitration panel was better than simply allowing a bankruptcy judge rule. “If you look at what happened to workers at US Airways and United Airlines under a bankruptcy judge, then it’s clear we have a better shot with the panel.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States and Canada.
UNITE HERE is a labor union of hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile and laundry workers, with nearly half a million members.