OPERATIONS

Teamsters reject Wegmans contract

BY Dan Berthiaume

Rochester, N.Y. – Teamsters Local 118 members on Monday overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer from Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. that would eliminate the pensions of more than 900 Rochester employees and not provide health care for their spouses. Local 118 will immediately request the participation of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to settle the outstanding contract.

"Our members flatly said no to an offer that would immediately cut their compensation package, eradicate our pension and leave our spouses’ health care in jeopardy," said Kevin McIntosh, Teamsters Local 118 business agent. By rejecting the contract, Teamsters Local 118 also authorized strike action.

Wegmans reports that it is offering a pay increase of more than 18%, although the contract would eliminate the $4.82 members have voluntarily diverted from wages to their pension fund. The company also refused to agree to contract language that would protect spouses under the contract. Wegmans faces unfair labor practice charges for violations of federal labor law that protect workers’ rights and prevent the company from unilaterally changing working conditions – in this case after workers protested the company’s proposal to eliminate their pension benefits. The charges will be investigated by Region 3 of the National Labor Relations Board in Buffalo, N.Y.

Teamsters Local 118, which represents more than 900 Wegmans warehouse workers, drivers and other skilled trades, has been in negotiations with Wegmans since March.

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OPERATIONS

Walmart announces two new centers dedicated to filling online orders

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Bruno, Calif. — Walmart announced it is opening two new warehouses dedicated to filling online orders, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and one in Bethlehem, Pa., which will be its largest center to date. The new facilities are part of a next-generation fulfillment network that the retailer said will deliver U.S. customer orders faster and at a lower cost.

The Fort Worth center is already open and began shipping orders last week. It is 800,000 sq. ft. The Bethlehem operation will be more than one million sq. ft. It is scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year.

The two facilities are expected to provide more than 600 full-time positions in Pennsylvania and Texas, and would likely add another 600 workers during the holidays and other peak seasons. The Fort Worth facility will be operated by Brentwood, Tenn.-based OHL, a global supply chain management solutions company. The Bethlehem center will be fully operated by Walmart.

"With our dedicated online facilities and 4,100 stores within five miles of two-thirds of the U.S. population, we gain a significant advantage by being positioned in the most important location, close to our customers," said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com. "This unique combination allows us to get more products to our customers faster and at a lower cost."

Walmart noted that it expects its online sales will exceed $10 billion globally this year, with growth of 30% in the quarter ended July 31. In addition to the U.S., Walmart’s e-commerce sales come primarily from Brazil, China, and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the retailer said that more than 10% of its orders are shipped from stores and more than 50% are shipped in less than two days.

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Report: Holiday hiring up

BY Dan Berthiaume

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Richmond, Va. – More seasonal jobs will be available this year than last year. Data from the sixth annual seasonal employment survey from Snagajob and Ipsos Public Affairs shows that 69% of hourly hiring managers with responsibility to hire year-end, seasonal workers for the holiday period, will make hires this year, up close to 10% from 63% last year.

Hiring managers, including those not planning to make any hires, expect to hire an average of 7.8 seasonal workers each. This is a 28% improvement from an average of 6.1 seasonal workers last year. When comparing the hiring managers who expect their fourth-quarter sales to be better than last year with those who expect sales to be worse, the survey shows a net score of +28, indicating an expected sales increase. By comparison, this year’s measurement is a 40% improvement from last year’s net score of +20.

“While there have been lackluster gains in the overall job market recently, hourly employers will still have a strong need for seasonal employees,” said Megan Overton, spokesperson for Snagajob. “There has been strength in hiring for retail, restaurants and other customer-service industries, and, according to our Snagajob survey, hiring managers need to staff up to holiday levels, even more so than they did last year.”

In addition, holiday hiring is expected to be earlier this season. Among those who will be hiring, 52% expected to begin hiring by the end of September, if not sooner, compared to 48% last year. The peak for holiday hiring should be October, when 31% of hiring managers will begin their hiring.

More than half of seasonal workers (53%) are expected to be full-time hires. Also, hiring managers who will be making hires expect that 52% of their seasonal hires will be able to stay on after the holidays with a permanent job. The average hourly pay for a seasonal job is expected to be $10.80 an hour, up 10 cents from last year.

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