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New deals for workers at Giant Truck drivers, warehouse employees make up for five years without raises Truck drivers and warehouse workers for Giant Food Inc. and Safeway Inc. in Maryland will receive their first pay raises in five years because of new labor union contracts signed in the past two weeks. Giant's warehouse workers in Landover and Jessup and Safeway's warehouse staff in Upper Marlboro will receive 75 cents more per hour for the first year of a five year plan. The grocery store workers will get annual increases of 55 cents an hour the following four years, said John Catlett, president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 639. "We made significant gains," Catlett said. "We made up for the last five years and then some. We ended up with the best grocery contract in the nation." The workers didn't receive raises in any of the last five years because Safeway was building a new warehouse in Upper Marlboro and its officials said they couldn't pay for any wage increase at the time, Catlett said. The union took a wage freeze to keep jobs. Giant Food executives, seeing that the union negotiated a no pay increase contract with Safeway, didn't want to pay an above market rate for their workers and also negotiated a wage freeze, Catlett said. Under the new contracts, warehouse employees and truck drivers at the Safeway warehouse will get a $2,500 one time bonus, Catlett said. Giant's drivers and warehouse workers will receive a one time $1,000 bonus. There were also improvements made on pension plans, holidays and sick days. The contract with Giant was signed Sunday; the contract with the Safeway employees was signed May 6. "We got mostly what we wanted," said Ritchie Brooks, vice president of Teamsters Local 730, which represents warehouse workers at Giant. "The negotiations were very professional and there was no animosity, as there was four years ago when we negotiated with them." Still, a strike committee was set up as a precaution, Brooks said. Some employees hired in the last five years may get a first year raise of up to $5 an hour to compensate for the slower salary progression and a lower starting rate, Catlett said. Some truck drivers started with $13.50 per hour and some warehouse workers started with $10.75 per hour. With the new salary raises, some employees could be making more than $22 per hour by year five of the contract. The average salary before the wage increase is $19.50 per hour for drivers, and $18 per hour for warehouse workers. Safeway owns the warehouse in Upper Marlboro, but it is managed by C Wholesale Grocers Inc. of Brattleboro, Vt. A spokesman for C which has 600 employees at the warehouse, praised the contract. "We're pleased with the results and think that it's a win win for our company and the Teamsters," said Bill Hamlin, a C spokesman.