Minimum Hour Guarantee Waiver (Food Contract)

The Minimum Hour Guarantee Waiver recently went into effect in the Retail Food and Meat Agreement. This allows employees to temporarily waive the minimum hourly guarantees that are spelled out in the current collective bargaining agreement. This waiver can be done in any week if mutually agreeable between the employee and the employer. In the event the waiver exceeds four (4) consecutive weeks, then the employee, employer and the union must mutually agree in writing with the understanding that the union will not unreasonably withhold approval. The employer will immediately provide the union with a copy of the signed agreement which will specify the period that the minimum hours are waived. Such agreements may be revoked in writing by the employee at least one week before the schedule is posted.

This new language can be a useful tool for some of our members. Take for example students that need reduced hours in a particular week to study for finals, do a term paper or participate in school or sport programs. Any employee can take advantage of this new provision on any given week as long as the provisions of the contract are followed.

As we see more and more members taking advantage of this new waiver, we are beginning to see some problems and potential abuses by management. There some things that you should keep in mind when using this waiver.

1. Your medical benefits are directly impacted by working less than the minimum monthly hours necessary to qualify for health coverage. If you do not work the required hours there may be a lapse in benefits and you could incur costly Bills and or COBRA premiums.

2. Your vacation pay and sick pay are calculated using hours worked in the anniversary year. So you may see a reduction in these payouts.

3. Holiday pay may be affected, due to a reduction of days worked prior to a contractual holiday.

4. A reduction in hours can make you ineligible for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) or CFRA (California Family Rights Act).

5. If you are in the process of earning full time status and take a reduction in hours you will have to start the process over.

We are monitoring possible management abuses of this waiver and you should report any misuse to the union immediately. As a union member you are entitled to your weekly guarantee unless you temporarily give up that right. If you are provoked, asked to sign such a waiver by management that you did not request, notify your union in order to protect your rights.

Use this waiver sparingly and wisely. Take note of the possible impact that this reduction may have on your wages and benefits before making the decision to waive the minimum hours that are guaranteed.