Union Workers at Hartford Harding’s Grocery Store Ratify New Contract

January 30, 2024

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2024

Contract includes significant wage increase for all workers

  GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 voted overwhelming on Friday, Jan. 26 to ratify a new contract at Harding’s Store #965 in Hartford. The three-year agreement features significant wage increases for Harding’s #965 employees, which greatly benefits both veteran employees and newer hires at the Southwest Michigan grocery store.

“We last ratified the Harding’s #965 contract three years ago and a lot has changed with the economy since then,” said UFCW 951 President John Cakmakci. “With this new contract, we wanted wages reflecting those changes and ultimately succeeded by putting a lot more money into the pockets of every worker at Harding’s #965.”

This contract features an immediate raise for clerks, cashiers, and department heads, including a 17 percent bump in the starting pay of department heads. Those at the top of the wage scale will benefit from the new contract by receiving a generous top-rate adjustment (TRA) for every hour worked in 2023 and then significant base rate increases for the next two years.

Along with the increase in pay, all benefits and protections from the previous contract, which was set to expire on Jan. 30, were preserved with this agreement, including health insurance, 401(k) employer match, paid breaks, and overtime pay after working more than eight hours in a day.

Also negotiated into the contract was “closed-shop” language, which ensures every new hire at Harding’s #965 becomes a union member. The anti-worker legislation known as right-to-work, which made closed-shop language illegal, has been repealed in Michigan, but language allowing the return to closed shops must be entered back into labor agreements. Michigan officially returns to a closed-shop state on Feb. 13, 2024.

“The harmful right-to-work law is finally going away and having new employees join the union upon being hired is beneficial to everyone involved with this new contract,” Cakmakci said. “Unions are on the uptick in this country and this new contract with Harding’s #965 is a good example of how important unions are to workers and their families.”

UFCW 951 also represents Harding’s #383 in Bangor and Harding’s #400 in Kalamazoo. Those contracts expire in 2026.

UFCW 951 is a progressive labor union representing over 28,000 workers across Michigan in a variety of industries including grocery, retail, food processing, pharmacy, and cannabis, who are employed at a variety of companies including Meijer, Kroger, Rite Aid, JBS, JLL, Sunberry Beverages, Polly’s, Harding’s, and Grandville Roasting & Packaging Plant. The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States representing over 1.3 million UFCW members nationwide and UFCW 951 is the largest private sector union in Michigan.