June 27, 2016
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Washington, DC – Teamsters who work at Costco in New York, New Jersey and Maryland have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement under which they will be covered by the Western Conference of Teamsters pension plan for the first time in the history of their membership.
The Western Conference is the largest Taft-Hartley defined-benefit pension plan in the nation. The 4,000 Costco Teamsters in the East now have joined the 12,000 Costco Teamsters in California as members of this defined-benefit plan.
"This is a significant benefit to be gained by our Costco members in the East, who can now join their fellow Costco members in California under the protection of a financially solid defined-benefit plan,” said Rome Aloise, International Vice President and Costco negotiations chairman. “This has been a subject of bargaining for at least three contracts, and to Costco's credit, they heard their employees loud and clear and decided to allow them the choice between their current plan and the pension plan. Now the East Coast members will have the best of both worlds.”
“After many years of working on this, we are happy that the members in the East, including Local 210 members, were able to voice their opinions in a secret ballot vote, and we are proud that we were able to accomplish this for them,” said George Miranda, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 210 in New York.
After the members rejected a previous company offer in March, Costco and the Teamsters met to correct the areas that caused the rejection—the attainment of the pension plan in the East being the major area of concern. Costco agreed to allow the members in the East to decide by a separate vote as to whether they wanted to enter the pension plan. Based largely on this change, the California agreement was ratified overwhelmingly in May. The East Coast Teamsters ratified their contract in a vote count on June 22nd.
"In many ways this is a significant victory for the cause to maintain defined-benefit pension plans. Workers realize the benefit of having a guaranteed monthly benefit when they retire, and these Costco members spoke loud and clear about how they wanted to invest in their future retirement," Aloise said.